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Monday, June 06, 2011
June 6, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:26 PM :: 7097 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

DHS: Thousands of ghost names on Hawaii Medicare, Medicaid Rolls

Our Cooling Globe: June Snow in Hawaii (video)

BIVN: VIDEO: Summer snow in Hawaii, high on Mauna Kea

State Auditor quietly withholds Hawaiian Homelands audit documents from disclosure

So what’s actually missing? I compared the list of audits in the letter with the list of audits on the website. Here’s what’s missing.

  • Management letter accompanying the Attorney General’s financial audit and single audit report.
  • Hawaiian Home Lands “Internal Controls and Business Issues Report”
  • Hawaii Public Housing Authority management letter
  • Hawaii Metropolitan Planning Organization management letter

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AP: Hawaii tax department to hire independent auditor to review its revenue reporting, accounting

Tax Director Fred Pablo says he's noticed unusual reporting in monthly tax revenue reports since he took office six months ago.

A December 2010 report by the State Auditor also pointed to some organizational problems in the department.

(This story is from the Columbus Republic—THE source for Hawaii News!)

Related: $134 Million Mystery: DoTax suddenly admits “unusual reporting, systemic problems, inconsistencies”

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Shapiro: Djou makes sense on rail

Djou notes that the community is as divided as ever on the $1.3 billion project and argues it didn’t have to be that way if the Hannemann and Carlisle administrations had made any effort to build community consensus after the 2008 voter referendum that narrowly approved steel-on-steel rail….

Djou, a former councilman, speaks with some credibility on the matter. He was the council’s leading rail opponent for years, believing the city couldn’t afford the expensive heavy-rail design being pursued.

But he respected the decision voters made in 2008 in favor of rail and shifted his focus from trying to kill the project to trying to improve it; he brokered the well-received deal to reroute the train past the airport instead of through Salt Lake.

Djou makes some good suggestions going forward….

RELATED: Djou: City has squandered any goodwill resulting from 2008 Rail vote

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HART budget different from City Council Budget for HART

When rail general manager Toru Hamayasu outlined the HART budget, he mentioned that it was different in some "minor" ways from the one approved Friday by the City Council. Hamayasu didn't discuss what the council characterized as critical differences in its version of the budget, such as restricting HART's authority to borrow money until after the federal government commits to providing $1.5 billion for the project.

Asked after the meeting why he didn't mention that condition to the board, Hamayasu told Civil Beat: "That's not the HART budget, that's part of the City Council's budget for HART." ….

Horner sat at the head of a U-shaped table and largely led discussion, asking many questions about a variety of topics, and often framing them from the "community standpoint."

"Don has always been like that," Kim said. "Smart guy. Can't say anything bad about about him."

Horner has certainly had plenty of experience serving as a board member: He is the chairman and CEO of First Hawaiian Bank, chairman of the state Board of Education, chairman of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau and serves as an executive committee member or adviser to many other organizations.

Lui-Kwan, a former city budget director, also spoke frequently during the meeting. He and Horner leaned toward one another and made remarks during the presentation, at least once laughing.

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Telescope has spent $100M, raised $375M

The TMT Observatory Corp. has spent $100 million so far on a Mauna Kea telescope that has been in planning for eight years.

According to Thirty Meter Telescope representative Sandra Dawson, the project has received donations of $50 million and $200 million from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Gordon Moore is a co-founder of Intel Corp.

The California Institute of Technology and the University of California have kicked in $100 million in matching funds in response to the Moore Foundation, and Canadian partner universities have kicked in $25 million.

That brings the total commitment to $375 million, Dawson said. The money raised to date is still $725 million short of the $1.1 billion total cost of the telescope, in current dollars, but she said funds from TMT's other partners -- including Japan, China and India -- will be enough to fund it fully.

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Hawaiian expects Japanese visitors to rebound within months

Japanese visitors to Hawaii, the state’s biggest overseas market, should rebound to “normal” levels within a few months after a collapse following Japan’s March tsunami, according to Hawaiian Airlines.

“We expect them to be back to normal by the end of the summer,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Dunkerley of the carrier’s Honolulu-based parent Hawaiian Holdings Inc. said in an interview in Singapore yesterday. “We had quite a strong drop in March and the beginning of April, but in the month of May, bookings started coming back.”

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Star-Advertiser shortchanges Haleakala Police Complaints

Ilima Loomis at the Maui News had an excellent investigative story yesterday (“Air Force police: Tools missing to do job“) concerning complaints by federal civilian police officers who provide security for the Air Force Maui Optical & Supercomputing Site on Haleakala….

The Star-Advertiser reduced the investigation to a two-paragraph rewrite filed in its “Newswatch” column under the headline: “Air Force, police resolve officers’ beefs.”

It simply recites an empty denial by the commander of the facility, which was contradicted in the story by documents obtained by the Maui News. You wouldn’t know that from the Star-Advertiser’s version.

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Reapportionment: Maui Advisory Commission says Military Personnel should not be counted

The question of whether to count military personnel who maintain legal residency outside of the state is important for Hawaii voters, particularly those in Maui County, said Madge Schaefer, a member of the Maui County Reapportionment Advisory Council.

In a November 1992 state constitutional amendment, voters decided not to count nonresident military personnel when the state redraws voting districts.

"The advantage of ignoring the nonresident military amendment and including the nonresident military goes to Oahu," Schaefer said. "It gains an 'empty' legislative district, and that will likely diminish the districts on the Neighbor Islands."

The advisory council will discuss this and other issues during a meeting beginning at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the ninth-floor mayor's conference room in the Kalana O Maui building.

(Democrats smile broadly and laugh.  Long live the one party system!)

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Hearings on plastic bag ban start Tuesday

Kailua-Kona resident Clint Cosare said he cares about the environment, but he also likes using plastic bags. Rather than an outright ban, Cosare urged the County Council to expand and look for practical ways to recycle plastic bags on the Big Island.

Cosare suggested setting up well-labeled canisters and drop-off points islandwide, where the public can dispose of plastic bags. Another idea he had was requiring businesses to collect and recycle the plastic bags they give to shoppers.

Robert Smith, of Kona, had one question for the council: "Don't you have more important things to deal with than a plastic bag ban?"

RELATED: Big Isle Plastic Bag Ban Hearings to begin June 7

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Luddites complain about Hydro on Kauai

When Reverend Katir took the microphone, he asked the crowd how many were in favor of the six hydro projects proposed. Silence filled the room.  (But the protesters are still pretending …)

“There is a history of attempts to do this and they have all failed,” he said. “On the other hand, we do have other examples of other small hydro projects that have not evoked FERC and have been successfully developed.”

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Tam could face jail time, new charges

State attorneys are reviewing a campaign spending violation case to determine whether to file additional criminal charges against former City Councilman Rod Tam, who faces sentencing this week on charges of stealing city money.

Deputy Attorney General Lori Wada said last week a decision on the campaign spending case will be made "soon," but declined to elaborate.

Tam faces sentencing Tuesday in Honolulu District Court for 26 misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor charges of theft and falsifying documents related to claiming reimbursements for meals.

Tam declined Friday to comment on the cases.

He pleaded guilty in November to overcharging the city $8 to $267 for meals at Honolulu restaurants from 2007 to 2009.

Still Ignored: Ousted Zoning Chair Rod Tam is secret partner in $1 Billion North Shore development hui

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Evidence Ignored in Unsolved Rapes

Barely half of Honolulu rape cases were solved in 2009, but 60-80 percent of rape kits collected that year never made it to the crime lab for analysis, a Civil Beat investigation has found.

The Honolulu Police Department reported 243 rape cases in 2009, the most recent data available. Honolulu spokeswoman Michelle Yu said police solved 55 percent of those cases, leaving 109 unsolved. Nationally, 41 percent of rape cases were solved that year, according to the FBI.

Given HPD's estimate of how many kits are assessed in the crime lab each year, the department has a backlog of somewhere between 143 and 203 sexual assault kits left unexamined in the past two years. It's not known how many of these are associated with unsolved cases.

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Hawaii has Least Competition in Trans-Ocean Shipping

Regarding the comments of Mark Rowbotham on Horizon and the Jones Act etc.

Certainly much of what he writes is accurate, but I would have a small disagreement on his depiction of no competition. Actually to Hawaii there are currently two container carriers, Matson and Horizon, making that route the least "competitive".

Puerto Rico has four carriers serving the trade with several more sailings per week; and Alaska has three carriers serving that trade….

It remains to be seen if Horizon survives the current circumstances. Certainly the vessel ages and the need to replace them will be a challenge.

Gary Ferrulli, President, Global Logistics & Transport Consulting

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Horizon Lines, Bondholders strike deal to Save Shipper

CFW believes that US container line Horizon Lines may once again have pulled itself back from the brink of bankruptcy. Last week the beleaguered carrier was warned that it could face delisting from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) when its market capitalisation and stockholder equity fell below NYSE criteria. However, a new capitalisation plan, under which note holders are to take control of a huge stake in the company, could save it from delisting. CFW cautions, however, that we expect to see the company continue to struggle to operate on a firm financial footing.

Horizon Lines announced an agreement with holders of the majority of its 4.25% convertible senior notes that involves 'a complete refinancing, in conjunction with a new asset-based revolving loan facility (ABL) of up to US$125mn, which is under negotiation with a leading financial institution'.

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Honolulu: Do You Know Where Your Mayor Is?

Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle is on his second trip to Asia in as many months, but has revealed little to the public about either trip.

Carlisle left for Taiwan and China on Saturday, and won't return until June 20. In May, he took a trip to South Korea. Gifts to the city, approved by the City Council, covered the costs of both trips.

The public schedule his press team issued on May 14, the week he left for South Korea, did not mention that trip. The mayor's public schedule is usually issued to reporters on Fridays, but Carlisle's office did not release a public schedule Friday, the day before he left for China.

CB: Honolulu Mayor's Office to Get $7,351 Makeover

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Hands Free Cellphone Law: 16,837 tickets in Two Years

In the two years since Honolulu's hands-free law went into effect, police have handed out 16,837 citations. The rate of ticketing is trending to about 10,000 a year, an average of about 27 tickets a day.

The fine and fees for first-time offenders are $97 — up from $67 per violation when the law first took effect. On July 1, the fee will rise even higher to $147.

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SA: Deal humanely with axis deer

A similar problem existed several years ago with fallow and axis deer at Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, Calif., but the National Park Service outraged animal lovers by hiring exterminators to gun the deer down and suffocate them with plastic bags.

Members of California's congressional delegation called for a moratorium on the crude extermination in 2008.

As a result, the National Park Service later that year adopted a policy of using contraceptive darts, fired from a dart rifle, "to ensure the remaining deer herd was safely and humanely controlled" and, importantly, non-reproductive.

The inexpensive method was recommended by the Humane Society of the United States and is said to be used around the globe. There now are no breeding male deer left in the Point Reyes area.

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Vanpool Hawaii to Close Operations

The Department of Transportation's contract with the organization expires at the end of the month. The state paid $3.7 million to the program after federal funding ended in April 2010, the DOT said.

Vanpool Hawaii said it informed its more than 1,600 members of the change. The company said it is looking for other funding options.  (That’s $2300 in funding per member)

The company is holding a meeting for its vanpoolers on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Sam Choy's Breakfast, Lunch and Crab restaurant in Iwilei.

The company said it will continue daily operations and will give members a 30-day notice of any price change.

Members pay from $65 a month plus share the cost of fuel with other members of a vanpool.  ($104,000 income per month)

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Old Earmarks Still Kicking In: Hawaiian islands getting money for job training

Hawaii's senators say $4.3 million is being appropriated to the University of Hawaii for job training and educational opportunities on the Big Island, Kauai, Lanai, Maui and Molokai.

U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka said the funding was obtained through an earmark in last fiscal year's federal budget recently released by the U.S. Department of Labor.

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On April 4, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Nader v Nago, 10-728. The Court thus continues its 20-year habit of refusing to hear any ballot access case brought by a minor party or independent candidate. Ralph Nader had brought this case in 2004, arguing that Hawaii has no reason to require six times as many signatures an independent presidential candidate as for a new party. The lower courts had upheld the law, saying that the presidential candidate of a new political party must work hard to get that party’s nomination, so the burden is really equal.

The facts contradict the lower courts. No one has qualified as an independent presidential candidate in Hawaii since Ross Perot did in 1992. All independent presidential candidates since then have got on the Hawaii ballot by qualifying a new party (to take advantage of the easier petition for new parties). No new party in Hawaii has ever failed to nominate the presidential candidate who caused that party to be created.

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