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Sunday, May 22, 2011
May 22, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:30 PM :: 9447 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

VOTING EXTENDED: SATURDAY was last day to vote for Honolulu Neighborhood Board

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels not running for President

Candidates sought for Hawaii County seat on UH Board of Regents

Reapportionment: Democrats don’t want to count Military Personnel, do want to count Felons

There are competing interest groups in all of this. One dividing line separates Oahu from the neighbor islands. Whether Oahu gets more or fewer representatives depends in part on how the commission decides to treat special populations. Up for debate is whether sentenced felons are counted as part of the population base, as well as college students attending school out of state.

However, it's the issue of military families that is most relevant, said Anthony Takitani, a Maui attorney and one of four appointees to the panel by the Legislature's Democratic majority. If military people are counted — they are now excluded — they give greater weight to Oahu where all the bases are located, he said.

"It will affect neighbor island representation," he said. "I'm the only neighbor islander on the commission." (Wrong. Nonaka is from the Big Island.)

REALITY: 38.9%: Hawaii has most deviant Legislative Districts in Nation

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Business owner and Consultant?  Clayton Hee’s False Ethics Reports 

In Hee’s case, his own campaign materials describe the senator as a “business owner and consultant.” But his report failed to disclose any business or consulting.

RELATED: Politically powerful state senator files false ethics reports

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Maui News Who do you expect to be the Republican nominee in the 2012 presidential race?

Romney leads with 32%

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No Audit of the DoE, but State Auditing Charter Schools

Designed as laboratories for innovation in public education, charter schools now educate 9,000 children across the state, a nearly 50 percent jump in the past three years. Many of the state's 31 charter schools are in rural areas, tucked largely out of sight and out of mind. Other than their devotees, few people know much about them. But that might soon change.

The spotlight is shifting to these "schools of choice" that now educate about 5 percent of Hawaii's public school children under "charters," or contracts with the state. Sixteen years after Waialae Elementary became Hawaii's first charter school, the state auditor is conducting a performance audit of the charter school system, due out this summer.

"Given the kinds of problems we're starting to see, and the questions that were coming up, now that the schools have been in operation for a while, how accountable are they for their own performance and for their students' performance?" asked state Auditor Marion Higa. "With the increase in their enrollment, and the increasing pressure the schools were exerting for facilities money, I thought this might be a good time to take that up."

(Still no FINANCIAL audit of the DoE and none on the horizon.)

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Failing Molokai School converts to Charter, now succeeds.  Teachers work longer day get paid more

The first big leap for this elementary school in the heart of Molokai was to switch to charter status in the summer of 2004, an effort to marshal the resources and flexibility needed to lift the performance of its economically disadvantaged population. Since then it has managed to steadily boost test scores, lengthen the school day by an hour and enrich the curriculum with an array of electives including daily PE. It even added a preschool.

"I love this school," said Tangonan, who has three children at Kualapuu, her youngest in the preschool class. "They give us the ability to send our kids to Hawaiian immersion or English. That in itself is a gift. I like the fact that we are a conversion charter so we can chart our own course."

Tangonan made her comments as she headed toward the cafeteria for a recent after-school performance featuring hula, taiko, Chinese dance and tinikling, the Filipino national dance. Performing arts as well as Hawaiian studies are now a regular part of the school day at Kualapuu School, where 90 percent of students are part-Hawaiian and 76 percent qualify for subsidized lunch because of low incomes.

When it became a charter, Kualapuu was facing "restructuring," the toughest federal sanction for falling short of academic targets.

Heavy focus on math and reading pushed up test scores to the point where the campus managed to get back in "good standing," the top tier, three years after becoming a charter. Reading proficiency has continued to rise since then, to 58 percent proficient last year, up from 41 percent in 2007, while math proficiency nearly doubled to 60 percent. But "good standing" wasn't good enough for Trinidad and the leadership team she has assembled, many of them strong women with local roots.

The school day now runs from 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., an hour longer than last year. Kualapuu's teachers are putting in 10 percent more time on the job this year and receiving 10 percent more pay. They also get more time to work together and plan.

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Charter School in Tents Whips DoE

The Spartan campus of West Hawaii Explorations Academy, a public charter school next to Kona Airport, lives up to its motto, "No Child Left Indoors." The most substantial structure is a hollow-tile concrete pavilion workshop. Students work mostly in open-air structures with fabric roofs.

Small sharks swim in a reef pool, and clown fish, opihi and other marine creatures inhabit various bubbling tanks scattered here and there. A couple of sixth-grade girls bend and twist the blades of their miniature windmill to see whether they can make it whirl faster, crouching by a garden of herbs and bananas coaxed from the barren lava.

About 200 students in grades 6 through 12 trek to this campus daily for the chance to take charge of their education, working on projects they dream up themselves, learning as they pursue their own passions. They travel from as far as South Point and Honokaa.

"They come from a 100-mile radius," said Curtis Muraoka, co-director of the school, which began as an off-campus program of Konawaena High School before becoming a charter in 2000. "Obviously, the demand for programs like this is there."

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Growth trends like in Ewa will guide reapportionment changes

» Oahu — The districts covering Kapolei and parts of Ewa and Mililani (19 and 20 in the Senate, 38, 40 and 43 in the House) showed above-average rates of growth.

The communities from Nanakuli to Kaena Point, around to Pupukea and south to Mililani, as well as Waipahu's makai edge, seem to be holding their own, with average population growth. One part of Honolulu, Senate District 12 — including Iwilei, Downtown, Kakaako and Waikiki — also grew at an average pace.

Most of the rest of the island — Pearl City, Aiea, urban and East Honolulu, Windward Oahu to Kahuku — show below-average growth.

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VIDEO: Abercrombie “We don’t deserve to hold office if we can’t deliver as Democrats”

“There’s a disconnect,” Abercrombie admitted to the room filled with fellow Democrats, on the grounds of Hualalai Academy. “On the Big Island, here, there are more elected officials here I think than there were at the entire Oahu convention,” he stated, to loud applause.

Abercrombie called for the revitalization of the Democratic party, re-channeling frustrations that the Democrat controlled legislature “left all kinds of things on the table” for which he blamed “internal disagreements, inside baseball and dugout politics.”

“We don’t deserve to hold office if we cant deliver as Democrats.”

WHT: Governor touts Honokohau opportunities

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SA: Charities that feed homeless should stop

Charitable organizations that feed the homeless in city parks have indicated they will ignore Gov. Neil Abercrombie's plea to halt their activities. While their hearts are in the right place, their actions can enable homelessness among some who could help themselves.  (Notice how intelligent the SA Editors suddenly become with APEC breathing down their necks?)

On a practical level, these charitable groups risk creating a legal battle they could lose if the state and city should choose to use a recent ruling as leverage to achieve the goal. Organizations that feed should coordinate with, rather than oppose, the state and city, keeping in sight the need to end homelessness and to keep public parks safe and clean for all.  (Usually it is the City which is being warned of the dangers of lawsuits.)

The full 11th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Atlanta ruled unanimously last month that restrictions on feeding the homeless in city parks are proper.  (Enjoy.  This momentary outbreak of editorial sanity will pass when APEC passes.)

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Kat Brady compares compares Halawa to Auschwitz as Fat Criminals lose weight, ACLU says system is cracking

"Even dogs and cats at the Humane Society eat better than us," said Namauu, serving time for negligent homicide.  Namauu, who is 5 feet 10 inches, said in a phone interview that his weight has dropped to 230 pounds since he was transferred to Halawa from an Arizona prison in June. Other inmates, especially those who returned from Arizona, tell similar stories, blaming inadequate, unhealthy food.

Vanessa Chong, executive director of the ACLU in Hawaii, said her office started receiving food-related weight-loss complaints this year and is looking into the situation. She encourages more inmates to contact her office.

Given the state's failure to adopt practical, cost-effective prison policies, she said, more problems are surfacing and she wouldn't be surprised if the food situation is yet another.

"This could be part of the ongoing cracking of the system," Chong said.

Hales said in a phone interview that meal portions for the general prison population have not been reduced because of budget cuts. 

Hales did note that Halawa recently corrected a practice in which some inmates were getting double portions when they shouldn't have been. He also said that male and female inmates, regardless of their size, get the same portions unless a doctor orders something different for medical reasons.

If an overweight inmate claims weight loss and is seen by a doctor, the inmate will not be placed on a medical diet to increase weight, he added.

Hawaii inmates' dislike of prison food is nothing new. Groups such as Kat Brady's Community Alliance on Prisons have heard such grumblings for years.

What's different this time, though, is the repeated complaints from family members who visit their loved ones and reported being shocked to see how much weight the inmates have lost, according to Brady, coordinator for the alliance.

"When families started calling me and saying, ‘Oh, my God, it looks like they've been in Auschwitz,' that tells me something is wrong," said Brady, referring to one of the concentration camps operated by the Nazis in World War II.

(We must immediately raise taxes to return Mainland inmates to these majestic institutions!)

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Developers Pitch Hoopili development for Ewa

Beginning in October 2005, West Oahu community leaders got involved in shaping the concept for a new kind of sustainable island community in West Oahu where people would really want to live. They worked with D.R. Horton-Schuler Division to help plan the project, which would also fit into the master plan for Ewa.

The plan for Ho‘opili — which means "coming together" in Hawaiian — is a walkable, sustainable community that seeks to improve the quality of people's lives by allowing them to live, learn, work, shop and play — all right in their own community. It's a new approach to urban planning in Hawaii, but one that builds on the traditional local concept of community, where people get to know their neighbors and enjoy a sense of place.

Actual building litigation is expected to start in 2012 — followed by as much as a two-decade-long build-out of hearings and negotiations — providing ample time to ensure Ho‘opili becomes a model community that's good for its residents, good for Oahu and good for the environment figures out which enviro-activists to pay off to make the suits go away.

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Five years after nearly closing, Kahuku Medical Center holds open house

It nearly closed its doors five years ago. But on Saturday, Kahuku Medical Center held an open house to show off its new, $300,000 emergency room renovation.

It's a day that many hospital staffers and some community members thought they would never see.

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Kapaia Bridge: After four years of talk and studies, Kauai County decides to do nothing

It took over four years, countless meetings and tens of thousands of dollars in studies, but the administration came to a conclusion on how to proceed with the Kapaia Bridge restoration.

“Our recommendation is that we don’t proceed,” said County Engineer Larry Dill, explaining that after a feasibility study the administration wouldn’t advise to restore the historic bridge unless the county acquires public access to it.

The bridge’s restoration was initially estimated at $4 million, he said. But a second evaluation, cutting a few corners, brought the cost down to $3.4 million, which includes acquiring public access.

Despite the administration saying the restoration is cost-prohibitive, the Kaua‘i County Council put $230,403 for the bridge in the county’s budget for next fiscal year. Councilman Tim Bynum said the money is to restore the original funding that the council initially approved.

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Ulua Hunters Needed: Fishing ban in NW Hawaiian Islands is Killing Monk Seals

(Eco-religion fails again.)  The 1,200-mile (1,900-kilometre) long marine preserve — called the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument — would seem like an ideal place for seals to thrive. It has the healthiest and least disturbed coral reefs in U.S. waters. Fishing isn't allowed, and the only people given permission to enter are generally those doing research, working at the National Wildlife Refuge at Midway, or those performing Hawaiian cultural rites.

Instead, only one in five pups born in the monument lives to adulthood. In contrast, their cousins born in the main Hawaiian Islands have a greater than 80 per cent chance of surviving. Scientists who study the seals blame the disparity on the large numbers of sharks and ulua fish, or jack, that compete with the monk seals for food in the northwest.

The bulky, grey and white animals eat by shoving their heads under rocks, flipping them over and gobbling octopus, eels or whatever else may be hiding underneath.

They can generally do this undisturbed in the main islands. But in the monument, crowds of ulua follow monk seals and steal whatever food the seals find. Mature seals dodge the stalking ulua by diving deep. The pups, though, aren't strong enough.

(In summation: The ignorant eco-religionists have eliminated humans--the primary control on fish populations--thus causing starvation and high mortality for juvenile monk seals.  Solution: Reintroduce ulua hunting and shark fishing in Papahanaumokuakea.)

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UPI: Ultralights need more regulation?

A series of fatal crashes in Hawaii has raised questions about the regulation, or lack of it, of ultralight aircraft.

Under federal regulations, ultralights can be used for pilot training but not for carrying commercial passengers. But three passengers have died in the past 14 months in what they apparently thought of as scenic tours, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Saturday….

Jim Struhsaker, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, called the situation a "soft spot on the whole industry." He said operators generally have their passengers sign forms saying they are beginning pilot training, although most never go beyond the first flight.

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Government Steps Up Repayment Of Student Loans

As the number of students defaulting on loans has increased, the Department of Education has increased the number of referrals to the Department of Justice. In the past year alone, that number has doubled.

At the U.S. Attorney's Office, lawyers file lawsuits to get former students to pay. Sometimes those lawsuits include extraordinary amounts, because the interest keeps accumulating until the entire loan is cleared.

"The last one we filed, which is not normal, was hundreds of thousands of dollars," Enoki said.

If Department of Justice attorneys win their lawsuit, they can then aggressively go after monies owned.

"We can garnish accounts, wages, even tax refunds," Enoki said.

Students have six months to start paying back certain loans after graduation, which puts even more pressure on graduates to get a job.

Unlike other debts, there is no end to student loan debt, which will still be with former students even after bankruptcy.

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Rump Presbyterian Church votes to allow oral, anal sex for Clergy

The Presbyterian Church USA ratified a change in its constitution May 10 that eliminated a clause requiring fidelity in marriage and chastity in singleness for its clergy and lay leaders. National news stories reported that the change means gays now can be ordained to those posts….

the ayes won nationally 12 days ago when a Minnesota presbytery became the 87th regional body to vote yes. Later the same day, the Pacific Presbytery, representing parts of Southern California and all of Hawaii, also voted in favor of "Amendment 10-A."

Local pastors said, however, there is another reason for the change in votes — many large evangelical Presbyterian churches already have left the national church, skewing the vote toward the more liberal side.

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Handi-Van driver accused of sexually assaulting mentally handicapped woman

A 54-year-old Handi-Van driver sexually assaulted his 24-year-old passenger last month in Waipahu, police said.

The woman has a mild mental handicap, police said.

She reported her Handi-Van driver touched her inappropriately the afternoon of April 19.

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“Pacific Gibraltar: U.S.-Japanese Rivalry over the Annexation of Hawaii, 1885-1898,” by William Michael Morgan

But as the 1890s went on, Hawaiian independence was increasingly threatened by growing Japanese power.

Japanese workers had come to Hawaii in the 1880s. By the mid 1890s the islands’ Japanese population outnumbered both ethnic Polynesians and ethnic Europeans.

Following the establishment of the Hawaiian Republic, the Japanese government increased Japanese immigration and pressured Hawaii to enfranchise these new arrivals.

Hints emerged that this Japanese faction would request annexation by Japan. In 1897, it appeared Japan was ready to seize the Hawaiian Islands regardless of the desires of the indigenous population.

American annexation — sought by the local government — forstalled this.

“Pacific Gibraltar” is a fascinating and extensively researched account of late 19th century world politics as they impacted a small, but strategic corner of the Pacific.

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