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Tuesday, May 10, 2011
May 10, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:03 PM :: 7465 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Coverup: DoE changes tests, surveys to create illusion of progress

UPDATE: Hawaii Right to Life PAC endorses more Honolulu Neighborhood Board Candidates

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted May 9

Borreca: Abercrombie will face a day of reckoning

For Abercrombie, however, his biggest defeat in his first year has been the inability to grow or restore government.

He came into office making the promise that what he saw as a "crippled government" would restart, rebuild and restore government.

As it turned out, Abercrombie was handed a budget that gives him little room to expand government or its services.

Instead, Abercrombie's future years will have him redefining state government, not rebuilding it.

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The Table of Shame - can we afford everything we wish for?

Panos Prevedouros has been circulating the “Table of Shame.” It’s a table intended to demonstrate that Hawaii will have an indebtedness of some $40 billion over the next few years….The $40 billion of debt on Panos’ Table of Shame includes unfunded ERS contributions ($9.5B) and health care ($10.8B), rail ($4.5B), sewers and treatment plants ($4.7B), water mains ($2.0B), airport upgrades ($2.8B), highway repairs and improvements ($4.1B), and the undersea cable ($1.5B).

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Nails in the Coffin: Legislature approves 252 bills this year

The Legislative Reference Bureau said lawmakers approved 252 of 3,224 bills introduced before the annual legislative session concluded last week.

Of bills that passed the Legislature, 49 have become law already, and Gov. Neil Abercrombie has vetoed two.

Abercrombie must either approve or veto the rest of the bills by July 12, the 45-day mark after the Legislature's adjournment.

CB: Gov's Batting Average For Bills at Ledge Tops .500

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As Redistricting Looms: Abercrombie touts Return to Multi-Member Districts

In a speech to O‘ahu Democrats over the weekend, Gov. Neil Abercrombie raised the intriguing possibility of supporting a return to multimember legislative districts.

Hawai‘i had many multimember House and Senate districts until 1982, when a Republican reapportionment lawsuit forced a change to all single-member districts.

It was one of the biggest bonehead moves in local political history, as multimember districts with as many as four seats made it much easier for minority party candidates to get elected.

Before the change, Republicans had influential caucuses in both houses, often with enough numerical strength to force votes, pull bills to the floor and be a factor in Democratic organizational disputes.

Since 1982, Republican numbers in the Legislature have been so small as to render them insignificant; currently, they hold only eight of 51 House seats and one of 25 Senate seats.

(This is designed to give Dems a way of undoing unfavorable redistricting plans.)

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Hawaii Ethics Commission Hasn't Issued Advisory Opinion Since 2006

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission has not published a single advisory opinion since 2006, part of a dramatic decline in requests by state employees for ethical direction.

Meanwhile, charges of ethical violations spiked in the 90s and have since been on an erratic path.

Between 1968 and 1985, the commission issued 570 advisory opinions, documents published on the commission's website after a request is made by a legislator or state employee to determine whether a scenario would constitute a violation of the state Ethics Code or the Lobbyists Law. In the 17 years between 1968 and 1985, the commission published an average of 34 opinions a year.

Then, between 1986 and 2006, 65 opinions were written — an average of a little more than three per year. Since 2006, the commission hasn't published any advisory opinions.

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ACT 221 Scammers on Big Wind: Governor must Seize Molokai Ranch and Give it to us!

On March 3, for lack of a deal between First Wind and Molokai Ranch, Gov. Neil Abercrombie threatened to condemn the Molokai site to move Big Wind ahead.

When Molokai Ranch reported that it was in fact negotiating with San Francisco-based Pattern Energy, the governor stepped back. But it's May and not a sure thing that Pattern will do any better than First Wind in dealing with Molokai Ranch or the Molokai community.

Satisfying the Friendly Island won't be easy. There's a kind of benefits package inflation going on. The cost of the Molokai package, as well as the cost of the site, will be passed along to ratepayers. The total will be huge, and could easily affect feasibility.

Rich benefits have been offered: reducing electricity rates by 50 percent; restoring Kaluakoi Hotel and Maunaloa Ranch; improving water utilities, roads and fire station facilities; funding scholarships and educational programs; and preservation and management of native lands.

But still no deal, and without a deal Big Wind is in trouble.

If we lose Big Wind, we lose the statewide grid….

When Abercrombie threatened eminent domain against Molokai Ranch, he unleashed the genie, and the possibility of condemnation is now in play. He gave us a glimpse of a powerful solution to our energy security predicament, and we can't let it pass.

In our state of islands, land is scarce, and NIMBY is in every back yard. Large landowners want to hold on to their land in hopes of appreciation and because it's so difficult to find other parcels. So they refuse to sell.

Hawaii has traditionally been reluctant to exercise eminent domain, and big projects have suffered for it. This is a problem for both energy and other things, and we need to get over it. Big projects need big land, and until we can get that land, we'll be hampered in those projects.

The governor needs to get the Big Wind parties in a room and jawbone them into a deal. Failing that, he should do exactly what he threatened — yes, condemnation.

RELATED: Abercrombie: State could seize 1/3 of Molokai for Wind Farm

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Higher Electricity Sales mask Effects of Decoupling 

Hawaiian Electric Co. reported net income of $19.2 million compared with $18.1 million in the first quarter of 2010. Higher electricity sales due to unseasonably humid weather and rate increases on Maui and Hawaii island helped boost income, according to HEI.

Lau said earnings and return on equity at HECO "remain depressed" pending a decision by regulators on the utility's rate hike request for Oahu.

In addition, the first quarter marked the implementation of a new rate-setting mechanism known as "decoupling," Lau noted. The system is designed to encourage the development of renewable energy and energy conservation by eliminating the economic incentive on the part of the utility to sell more electricity. Decoupling essentially guarantees utilities enough revenue to cover their fixed costs even if their electricity sales decline.

(When electricity sales drop, rates will rise.)

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Crisis? Kauai County Begins Hiring

Council adds deputy prosecutor, mulls adding more new positions today….

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Recycling subsidy in danger

Schnitzer has said that the discount is applied equally to all parties and that its reimbursement is commensurate with the tonnage it recycles each year. If the discount is to be eliminated, Schnitzer has asked that it be phased out over several years, to allow the company to make incremental adjustments to the amount of materials it processes.

"One thing is certain: We will have to take steps to decrease the amount of nonrecyclable materials passing through our yard," Jennifer Hudson, public affairs manager for the company's metal recycling business, said in testimony to the Council last week.

Opponents of eliminating the discount say it could lead to the recurrence of abandoned vehicles and bulky metal appliances being dumped on roadsides. Supporters say the recycling business in Hawaii and around the world is healthy, and the elimination of the discount could boost businesses such as auto strippers that remove rubber and upholstery from cars.

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Murkowski welcomes U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka back to work after rib injury

Bi-partisan pork partner U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, was among those welcoming Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) back to work. Akaka suffered two broken ribs last week and returned to work yesterday.

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APEC Preparations: Weak start for state’s homeless initiative

Lacking financial and housing alternatives (huh?  there are open shelter spaces unused all over Oahu), Gov. Neil Abercrombie is asking for community involvement in steering the homeless to existing medical, mental and housing services. The approach has earned praise in other states for linking coordination of government, nonprofit service groups and community members — but Hawaii's roll-out of the concept leaves much to be desired….

As reported Sunday, a two-week check found the call-in initiative was unsuccessful in getting even one person off the streets or beaches, despite some 160 calls and emails statewide. And there remains a stagnant sense of frustration among agencies dealing with homeless people, agencies that see the chronic, hard-core cases. If there is a bright spot, it is that some on the brink of homelessness have called to get help, so hopefully won't fall into the housing abyss.

Notwithstanding the fact that many of Hawaii's homeless are already in plain sight, the state failed to fully convey the value of collaboration at the front end between the public and private sectors, and the need to start a tracking system to better deal with the nature of Hawaii's homeless needs. For example, similar methods can be seen in Minnesota, which launched a coordinated public-private partnership called Heading Home Minnesota last year aimed at ending homelessness in seven counties and six regions.  (Hmmm  Homelessness Industry sees lots of money for “service providers”.)

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APEC Preparations: Prostitution expected to surge for APEC

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference will put Hawaii on an international stage in November, and officials here want to make sure Waikiki's seedier side doesn't hog the spotlight.

Local politicians, hoteliers and law enforcement officials are planning heavier security to combat an expected increase in prostitution as pimps bring more sex-trade workers to the islands to meet higher demand….

Once, when she returned to the hotel without his quota, the woman said that he held her over a 20th-story railing and threatened to drop her.

"I thought that I was going to die," she said.

The woman, who escaped with the help of a cabdriver, is now part of PASS's lobbying efforts to get House Bill 240 signed into law. The bill passed the state House and Senate and is awaiting a decision by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

HB 240 would give law enforcement better tools to fight prostitution, said Carlisle, who was formerly the city prosecutor.

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APEC Preparations: Free plane ticket to Texas for homeless woman in Waikiki

A woman who wound up homeless in Hawaii will head back to Texas with her mother on Tuesday. Yughette Baker's free plane ticket was a gift from strangers. Cheryl Walter traveled nearly 4,000 miles to bring her mentally ill daughter home. Walter booked a round-trip flight for herself, but discovered she couldn't afford a ticket for her daughter who suffers from schizophrenia. Baker left their home in Texas last July. Three months later, police found her living in the streets of Waikiki.

"I ran checks on her and she was reported missing in Texas," said Officer Erick Tanuvasa of the Honolulu Police Department….

State lawmakers just rejected a bill to help homeless people return to their home state if a support network is available.

"If we use this $50,000, we would probably save the state over half a million, close to a million dollars," said Mizuno.

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Point Panic Homeless Camp proposed as Site for Obama Library

A team of University of Hawaii, state and private business leaders have begun a campaign to bring the Barack Obama Presidential Library to Kakaako, near the waters of Point Panic. 

(Don’t get too excited.  Chicago is gonna get stuck with this thing in 2013 when Obama is out.)

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Expensive Private School Brainwashes Manoa Children

The Academy of the Pacific, like most small schools, has been particularly challenged by the downturn in the economy. In an environment of serious budgetary challenges, we were challenged to devise worthy projects that might be deserving of the SOTF grant using less manpower and fewer resources. Our answer was to redirect our thinking from a "project-based" paradigm to one that looked at the entire school as a living laboratory, focusing on a theme of sustainability. Using the (left slogan) axiom "Think Globally, Act Locally" as our guide, we determined to challenge our students to study various global conditions, identify the correlating local issues and then to create a local, manageable solution right on campus.

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Pot-Heads, State of Hawaii team up to soak landowner for $15,000 a day

No permits or authorizations have been obtained from the department for any of the work," Lemmo wrote.

Witnesses have said the trail was made so KapohoKine Adventures could bring commercial tours to Honolii Stream, he wrote, adding "all evidence supports this assertion."

To verify his staff's recommendations, Lemmo included in his report numerous photographs of the trail and correspondence his office exchanged with landowner Teresa Prekaski, who last October asked the Department of Land and Natural Resources for advice on how to create the walking trail on her 570-acre property.

"OCCL's main concern with this case is the willful nature of the alleged violation," Lemmo added in his report, which is posted on the land board's website. "At no time during our correspondence with the landowner was it disclosed that the work had already been conducted in the conservation district."

Reached Monday, Prekaski refuted the allegations, which she attributed to two "crazy" neighbors who "smoke too much pot."

Lemmo is recommending a minimum $15,000 fine, to be paid within 60 days of the board's action, and $1,500 to reimburse the state for its administrative costs.

He also wants the land board to order Prekaski and Marrow to restore the land to its "original state" or apply for an after-the-fact conservation district use permit within 120 days.

His other recommendations include stopping all commercial activities within the conservation district and requiring certification that use of the trial has ceased.

"If further work, including commercial tours, continues in the conservation district ... without approval, they will be fined an additional $15,000 a day," Lemmo added.

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Horders of Wildly Posturing Hactivists block Appointment of Kauai Archaeologist

The Garden Island newspaper reported the Council voted Wednesday to deny Nancy McMahon the post after a resolution to confirm her appointment drew a crowd with many fiercely opposed.

Claims against her, including from many native Hawaiians, include she sides with developers, doesn’t follow proper procedure and has a questionable educational background.

One bizarre claim by a spa owner said her employees refuse to work on her because she always came in dirty.

Kaulana Fraser says that in Hawaiian tradition unclean people are not allowed to carry bones.

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Sellers’ Remorse: Maori get head back

“It’s truly a solemn and symbolic day,” New Zealand ambassador Rosmary Banks said. “We are very happy at the return” of the tattooed head after so many years in Rouen, Banks said.

For years, New Zealand has sought the return of Maori heads kept in collections abroad, many of which were obtained by Westerners in exchange for weapons and other goods.

Dozens of museums worldwide, though not all, have agreed to return them. Maori, the island nation’s indigenous people, believe their ancestors’ remains should be respected in their home area without being disturbed.

Some Maori heads, with intricate tattoos, were traditionally kept as trophies from tribal warfare. But once Westerners began offering prized goods in exchange for them, men were in danger of being killed simply for their tattoos, French museum officials have said.

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Hitler Poster Child Changes Life, Finds Hawaii Home

 

“When the war ended and all of a sudden the curtains were drawn for the world to see,” she said, opening up a book with pictures of the victims of the Holocaust.

Only then, she says, did she and so many Germans realize the extent of what Hitler had done.

“This is the camp I visited afterwards,” she said, looking at the gruesome pictures in a book. “You see the ovens? Look at the bodies. I cried for 2 weeks,” she said.

But as the war winded down, her life would take an unexpected turn.

“My husband was a Hilo boy and Chinese,” said Lum.

Ken Lum, an air force pilot stationed at Bremen Airport, befriended her brother, met Else, and fell in love with her.

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