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Monday, May 23, 2011
May 23, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:16 PM :: 7760 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development


Bloody Primary: Hirono vs Case vs Hanabusa for Senate?

Aiona vs. Hannemann for CD2?

Federal Law Enforcement Foundation: Hawaii Muslims not sanctioned to use our name

Gulen Cult strikes out in Hawaii Legislature, School?

Hawaii PUC Stats show Windfarms cause Blackouts

DoTax still has no explanation for sudden discovery of $134M

Gov. Tim Pawlenty announces Presidential Campaign

Larry Mehau associate John Carroll to run for US Senate as Libertarian

Study: Humans Wiped Out Land Crabs 1000 yrs ago In Hawaii (they were delicious) 

Abercrombie to Democrats: We’re running out of time to Survive 

Talking about the important topics that he says the party should be rallying behind, Abercrombie stressed energy independence. “This is a matter of our survivability,” said the governor. “This is a matter of keeping us inundated from international global forces.”

“We are running out of time,” warned Abercrombie. “I want to get past arguments about biofuels vs. geothermal vs. solar vs. wind. We’re going to have to do everything we can, just to survive.”

The governor did not offer literal solutions, but he did say that the state needs to sit down to hatch out a plan, and push the legislature to vote it through. Abercrombie learned this year that convincing the fellow Democrat controlled legislature to adopt parts of his New Day Hawaii plan is easier said than done.

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Abercrombie signs measure for SHORTER school day (180-day law killed)

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed into law a measure that gradually phases in requirements for more class time in public schools.

The measure rolls back a law passed last year that would have mandated increases in instructional time at public schools starting next school year.

Instead, the bill Abercrombie signed into law Thursday delays for three years the new requirements for high schools and middle schools.

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Abercrombie teams up with Karl Rove against AARP

Based on AARP's 2009 financial statement — (a representative told Civil Beat 2010 reports have not yet been completed) — it's clear that royalties from insurance companies are the single most significant source of revenue for the organization.

Memberships in 2009 hauled in about $250 million, publication advertising brought in $112 million and grants about $105 million.

But royalties paid to AARP from insurance companies using the AARP logo earned the organization $657 million in 2009, more than all other sources of revenue combined.

It's this connection between AARP and insurance companies that could add weight to Abercrombie's argument….

In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal in January, Karl Rove, former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, took a similar stance.

Rove said that because AARP was such a staunch supporter of "ObamaCare," the organization will be rewarded with tax exemptions.

Finally, GOP representatives produced an entire Congressional report, entitled, "Behind the Veil: The AARP America Doesn't Know," published in March. Part 1 of the report has the headline: "AARP The Insurance Company."

CB: Newsmaker: Talk Live With AARP Hawaii's Barbara Kim Stanton

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State Auditor Attacks Successful Charter School

Launched in 2008, the public charter school has quadrupled its enrollment over two years, with 1,000 students at last count. On March 1 it opened up 250 more slots for this fall, triggering that line of parents. The school can grow so quickly despite its limited space — 10,000 square feet — because its students work mostly at home. They come to the learning center on average twice a week for face-to-face classes, with additional time for electives….

Hawaii Tech's students score well, with 85 percent proficient in reading and 45 percent in math last year. But the school's close connection with K12 Inc. has raised a red flag with the state auditor's office, which is examining Hawaii's charter school system. The for-profit firm gets 41 percent of the school's allotment of funds from the state. Under its contract, it also pays the principal. That means Piontek is a private employee, not a state employee like other public school principals.  (THIS IS WHY THE SCHOOL SUCCEEDS.)

"That is a huge issue with a lot of people," said Piontek, who makes $115,000 a year. "They are afraid the curriculum company is running a public school. I would much rather be a school employee, and so would the local school board."

The board has been trying to renegotiate its K12 contract, which was signed before Piontek was hired and runs until 2014.

HTA enrolls students from South Point on the Big Island to the North Shore of Kauai, some of them competitive surfers or performing artists who need a flexible schedule. The school's individualized approach has struck a chord, especially with military families and home-schoolers. Piontek pulls up some profile data with a few quick strokes on his laptop: 47 percent of students come from public schools; 31 percent are military dependents; 20 percent were home-schooled; 12 percent came from private schools; 2 percent from other charter schools.

"I could fill the whole school with military, but we want it to be a local school," Piontek said. "Our plan caps it at a third."

(This is why the DoE is attacking this school via the State Auditor’s office.  If military families were actually given a choice, 10,000-plus students would quickly be vacuumed out of the DoE.) 

MN: Kihei Charter School jumps over 500 students

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Small Charter Schools kept on Life Support by KSBE in order to use up all the Charters

"You know how many charters have been revoked in Hawaii since the charter school law was passed more than 10 years ago?" he asked. "Zero. If we were in line with the rest of the country, it might be two or three or one every year, whether for fiscal concerns, academics, whatever."

One big reason that charters — even tiny ones — continue to survive and even thrive in Hawaii despite what many consider inadequate state funding is the hefty support they receive from Kamehameha Schools. The organization believes that to reach most Hawaiian students it must work through the public schools, and charter schools are a favored avenue. As public schools, charters cannot charge tuition, so they rely on state and federal funding as well as grants and private donations.

Kamehameha helps fund 17 of the state's 31 charter schools, those with Hawaiian-focused curricula and a largely Hawaiian student body. It provides $1,500 per pupil a year and is even more generous to small schools. Since 2008, Kamehameha has provided base-line funding of $150,000 annually for each campus, even if enrollment falls well below 100 students. For the smallest school, that works out to $4,000 a student, not far from the $5,560 the state provided in per-pupil funding for each charter school this year. Kamehameha also provides other help, including training for teachers and school leaders, instructional support and research.

Six Hawaii charter schools are so small — fewer than 100 students each — that they would be targeted for closure if they were traditional public schools.

EXAMPLE: Hippie private school finds some success in transition to public Waldorf education

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Highlands Intermediate student in police custody following gunshot on campus

The boy took off the magazine, still bullet in chamber, and pointed it at his friend. His friend then hit the gun away, causing it to go off.

According to police, the bullet that was still in the chamber hit a lava rock wall and bounced off and through a 14-year-old boy's jacket. The bullet continued on and hit a second wall. Fragment then struck another 14-year-old boy's fingers.

That student was taken to the hospital for treatment, but is in very good condition.

The student who brought the gun was taken into police custody.

(Isn’t the DoE magnificent!)

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Progressive Democrats begin to panic over Reapportionment

Progressive Democratic Party activist Bart Dame is urging greater attention to the Reapportionment Commission.

The commission is scheduled to meet on Tuesday at 3 p.m. That meeting will be preceded by a meeting of the Apportionment Advisory Council of Oahu at 1 p.m. Bart writes:

I expect some of you have already been following the Reapportionment Commission’s activities. If so, I would love to learn from you before going into the Tuesday meeting.

They are meeting in the State Capitol, Room 329. Here’s the Agenda.

I have been advised that there is some serious struggle going on within the Commission and that this is the time for citizen activists to make observing the Commission a priority. The more public scrutiny, the less likely anyone will be able to get away with “shenanigans.”

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UH Manoa Ethnic Studies Fraudsters: APEC meeting a chance to promote 'Value of Hawaii'

The conversations about land and water, the arts, energy, education, and the economy, tourism and transportation, social services, slow food and sustainability and the future of Hawaii in general, painted a picture of a place where people once lived in a way that cares for everyone. (Under feudalism. And ate up all the delicious crabs!)

It would cost millions to launch a marketing campaign to educate world leaders about a Hawaiian worldview that envisions people living what Jon Osorio described in the "Value of Hawaii" discussion as "a life directly nourished by the land." But come November, we will have leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation nations right here in Hawaii talking about the things APEC leaders always talked about: the advancement of global commerce. And the conversation will go the way it always has: a revisiting of trade agreements, much rhetoric about working together and, of course, the obligatory photo op in aloha attire.

Unless we turn the same old way of doing things on its head. We could actually make sure that the native Hawaiian worldview and island values are given a central place on the agenda.

REALITY: Study: Hawaiian Islands Feudal system in 1400 AD, Human arrival 'wiped out' Hawaii's unique crabs (MMMMM ono good!) 

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SA to Council: Allow rail authority to do its job

A voter-mandated board is scheduled on July 1 to start controlling spending on the rail transit project, but a nervous City Council is moving to preclude its authority. The Council's attempt to oversee the expenditures flies in the face of a City Charter amendment approved last year by Oahu voters, and Mayor Peter Carlisle is right in his threat to veto the measure if the Council passes the proposal.

The charter amendment gives the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, or HART, board "management and control over moneys made available to the authority in the special transit fund established to receive the county surcharge" on the state's general excise tax.

In urging that the Council intervene, Councilman Ikaika Anderson asserted that the Council "will look over their budget, and we will approve it or not approve it" while the HART board would be limited "to run the day-to-day operations of the transit system." That was not the intent of the charter amendment, which gave HART "semi-autonomous" authority similar to that of the city Board of Water Supply, which manages its own budget without City Council oversight.

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ILind: Foreclosure Law will allow Condo Fee Deadbeats free ride

I sit on a condominium board of directors, and condo associations are still catching up with the practical meaning of the new law. Condominiums will now have clear access to nonjudicial foreclosures, but will not be able to reject a payment plan proposed by a delinquent unit that includes making all current payments plus any payment on past-due amounts.

This will continue to put pressure on condominium budgets. An apartment owner could owe thousands of dollars and, under this new restriction, apparently pay a token $10 per month towards those past-due amounts as long as they stay current on the current month’s amount. Previously, condo associations were able to demand substantial payments that would cover past-due amounts in a reasonable period of time. Just how the loss of leverage will play out is still unclear.

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Odds Against Entrepreneurship In Hawaii

What is remarkable about comparing Hawaii with its colleagues on the mainland is that the atmosphere or climate in the state works against entrepreneurship, that is, it is difficult for folks who have a great idea about starting up a business or new enterprise to actually break into the market.

Bright people, both young and old, find numerous barriers placed before them before they can even open their doors for business. The first reaction would be that taxes are so high in Hawaii where the general excise tax is imposed regardless of whether or not a business or enterprise is profitable. So while a start-up business may have to take a minimal mark up on its products or services in order to attract customers for the first time, the general excise tax eats into the mark up to the point where those start-up businesses have little left to reinvest in new products or services.

But before an entrepreneur can open the doors of a new business there is a plethora of forms and applications that must be filed and submitted with a variety of state and county agencies. Even more challenging is the renovation or construction of a facility that will incubate the start-up business, be it getting a building permit or a health permit or a permit to reroute an air-conditioning duct, an eager entrepreneur is faced with challenges from a number of agencies where workers plead that they are short-staffed because of budget cutbacks and where there is no sense that time lost is money lost.

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Hawaii technology office on course for creation

The Hawaii Legislature has appropriated $1.2 million to pay for the creation of a state information technology office tasked with improving public online services, making government more efficient and saving money.

The bill funds a chief information officer and an information technology office sought by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Combined, they will form a new Office of Information Management and Technology tasked with upgrading the state government's aging computer and technology systems.

Abercrombie has said he plans to hire a chief information officer by July, evaluate the state's technology needs over the next two years and then implement the plan in 2013.

Online: HB1060:

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Groups call on students to challenge themselves

"To succeed in today's information age and to prepare for a dynamic and ever-changing future, students need to have a high-quality education that includes studying advanced reading, writing and mathematics," said Karen Lee, executive director of Hawai'i P-20 Partnerships for Education, which is working with the BOE and Department of Education on the campaign….

According to a release, the students who sign up for the program will receive:

  • Information on college and career preparation in high school along with invitations to college-prep events and other activities.
  • Better access to college grants and scholarships upon graduation, as well as special consideration for various Hawaii scholarships.
  • Priority admission to select Hawaii colleges and universities, for those who receive the diploma "with honors" (other conditions may apply).

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Special report: youth gangs in Hawaii

Do you think that Hawaii has a street gang problem? You might be surprised by how many street gangs law enforcement officers recently identified across the state.

One agency working with youth gang members says its efforts have helped to reduce violent gang activity in recent years. But the group says that's led to complacency by those who feel Hawaii doesn't have a gang problem. 

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US Wind Installations Dropping Sharply

Ignacio Galán, chief executive of the Spanish energy group Iberdrola, said the rise in US shale gas production had transformed the country’s energy industry, driving down gas and electricity prices. “Shale gas makes the production of electricity from other sources not attractive enough,” he said. (So sad.)

Installations of new wind capacity in the US dropped from 10,000 megawatts in 2009 to 5,100MW last year. Mr Galán said he expected there could be a further 5,000MW added this year, and perhaps as little as 3,000MW next year.

Government support for wind, which includes federal tax credits and legal standards for renewable generation adopted by 29 states, was adequate, he said, but added: “It’s hard to make an attractive return on investment at these prices.”

IBERDROLA:  Wind Energy's Ghosts

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Korean TV show a boon for tourism

Eighteen Korean reality game show contestants are vying for a prize in Hawaii; however, the state's visitor industry could prove the biggest winner.

KBS, the Korean soap opera station, is filming "Challenger," a kind of "Survivor" or "Amazing Race" meets "The Apprentice," at locations throughout Oahu and Hawaii island. Contestants, who were selected from more than 8,000 applicants, began competing on Saturday and will go through 15 elimination rounds that will leave four contestants to compete on June 7. The final winner will be selected by vote during a live broadcast of the 16th episode.

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Tonga: Hawaiian Kingdom visa scheme is a scam 

Tonga’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Immigration Division has issued a warning to travellers to the United States that visas issued by a group known as the “Kingdom of Hawaii” are not valid, and cannot be used for entry to the United States.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Immigration Division (MFAID) has received information that Tongan nationals have spent monies for a visa issued by what has become known as the ‘Hawiiian Kingdom’,” says the Release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Monies collected by the ‘Kingdom of Hawaii’ for the issue of these visas may be part of a fraudulent scheme.”

Assistant Police Commander ‘Unga Fa’aoa says the police have gotten passports with the stamps of these visas from the “Kingdom of Hawaii.”

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