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Tuesday, June 07, 2011
June 7, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:43 PM :: 7206 Views :: Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development

DBEDT: Census Report looks at Redistricting in Hawaii

Libertarian Think-tank Ranks Hawaii #47 in Freedom

New Charges: Rod Tam to be arraigned for Campaign Spending Violations

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted June 6

Sun Yat-Sen Hawaii Birth Certificate causes Trouble in Taipei

Lim’s Attack on Tourism: Revenge by Abercrombie?

In a speech last week to the Hawaii Economic Association, Richard Lim, state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism director, said tourism has generally remained stagnant for the past two decades and can no longer be relied on to move the economy into a prosperous future.

Lim said renewable energy and high-tech companies will have to be part of the new Hawaii economy.

It may be a bit soon to throw under the bus an industry that puts $1 billion a month in the local economy. Mike McCartney, president and chief executive of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, came to tourism's defense, saying that it has changed over the years.

Tourism now includes a growing convention and meeting market, and time-shares are going great and expected to be a strong part of the industry, McCartney says.

Because the tourism business puts so much into the economy, employing 150,000 residents and adding so much to the tax base, it is not just another business with benefits to call on when you need some bucks.

"Tourism, more than we know, is providing the opportunities we enjoy through government. We have to embrace and nurture it," McCartney says.

McCartney's tourism buddies may want to check their back when it comes to the Abercrombie administration. The new Democratic governor came into office on a campaign where he ran against candidates supported by almost all the major tourism executives. In his opening State of the State address, Abercrombie called for reallocating up to $10 million from McCartney's HTA.

HR: New Report: More States Abandoning Film Tax Incentives

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State Supreme Court to hear case for Hawaiian Homes funding

The Hawaii Supreme Court agreed today to consider the state's challenge to a lawsuit by Native Hawaiians who want the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to seek adequate funding from the state.  (And not lease out land for commercial development.  This is a recipe for the final destruction of DHHL.)

The suit asks for a court order directing the department to seek "sufficient" money from state lawmakers to provide homestead lots to Native Hawaiians on its waiting list.  (And stop leasing out commercial land.)

The lawsuit had been dismissed in 2009. But the Intermediate Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit in January this year. 

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State liabilities must be reduced

This year's Legislature did nothing to deal with the staggering liability of the health care fund for current and retired state and county employees. The fund's administrator recognizes that tax increases would amplify the problem by dragging the state's economy away from recovery. Systemic changes are needed.

About 200,000 active and retired public employees are receiving $390.2 million this fiscal year through the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund, up from $336.8 million in fiscal 2010, according to an Aon Hewitt report released in May. The unfunded actuarial accrued liability — what taxpayers will eventually pay for state and county retiree health benefits — has grown from $9.2 billion two years ago to $14.5 billion….

In an attempt to start benefits reform, Gov. Neil Abercrombie asked the recent Legislature to end generous Medicare Part B reimbursement to state retirees of deductions made by the Social Security system, typically about $150 a month. Those reimbursements, which includes doctors' services, outpatient care and other services not included in Medicare's general coverage, total $40 million a year in tax dollars — monies that would be more wisely transferred to reduce the fund's liability.

But the bill was diluted after the Attorney General's Office opined that existing recipients of the Part B reimbursement could challenge the move in court. Legislators reduced Abercrombie's proposal and looked at eliminating the Part B reimbursement only for future employees (and their spouses) hired after July — but even that timid initiative died.

"These are the types of structural changes the administration believe needs to be made to ensure the long-term viability of the EUTF plan," noted Dean Hirata, chairman of the EUTF board of trustees. Such reforms also are needed in the state Employ­ment Retirement System, but there, too, legislators rejected the governor's most important changes.

Aon Hewitt EUTF Report: 

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Hawaii graduation rate 65.8%, DoE continues to play numbers games

The "Diploma Counts" report, released today, says Hawaii's graduation rate is 65.8 percent — lower than the national average of 71.7 percent and far below Hawaii's calculated graduation rate of 80 percent.

The discrepancy between the report's rate and the state's calculation is linked to differences in how researchers arrive at graduation rates — an argument that's expected to quiet greatly this fall, when the federal government will for the first time require states to calculate graduation rates in the same way…. 

(Skip multiple paragraphs from SA’s latest DoE hack, Mary Vorsino with excuse after pathetic excuse for why the DoE numbers are right and the Feds are wrong.)

…Meanwhile, New Jersey had the highest graduation rate in the report, with 86.9 percent, followed by Vermont (82.7 percent) and Wisconsin (81.3 percent).

Hawaii's graduation rate of 65.8 in the report came in 11th from the bottom, flanked by Alaska (66.3 percent) and Washington state (65.6).

The report points out that Hawaii's graduation rate, as it's calculated in the study, has increased by nearly 6 percentage points over the last decade.  (So it will take the DoE ten more years to reach average and thirty years to equal New Jersey.)

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

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Navy Ship That fed Bin Laden’s stinking corpse To Sharks will stop In Hawaii

The ship is due to arrive in Pearl Harbor for a scheduled port visit Tuesday.

The USS Carl Vinson was in the North Arabian Sea early last month when it received a Navy SEAL team carrying bin Laden's body. Navy SEALs killed the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks during a raid on his compound near a Pakistani military academy.

Pentagon officials have said bin Laden's body was placed in a weighted bag on the carrier, an officer made religious remarks (“G-D this to Hell, Amen!”) and the remains were put on a board and tipped into the sea.

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Stangel was in custody before (Soft on Crime)

AN OAHU GRAND JURY charged Stangel in May 2004 with carrying a firearm without a permit in November 2003.

Stangel pleaded no contest to the charge in July 2004 and asked the judge for an opportunity to clear the charge from his criminal record if he stayed out of trouble. Carrying a firearm without a permit is a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison….

In March 2007 Stangel asked the court to end its supervision and to dismiss the firearm charge early. In support of that request, Deputy Public Defender Timothy Ho submitted a written declaration attesting to Stangel’s eligibility for early release….

On the date Ho submitted his declaration, Stangel had already been found guilty of two other crimes.

Honolulu police stopped Stangel on March 16, 2005, for speeding. Speeding is a traffic violation, not a crime. However, police also arrested Stangel for drunken driving.

Stangel pleaded guilty to drunken driving and speeding on June 2, 2005. A Honolulu district judge fined Stangel $500 for drunken driving and $250 for speeding and ordered him to pay another $174 in fees and assessments.

Then in January 2006, police arrested Stangel for misdemeanor criminal property damage. A judge found Stangel guilty on April 28, 2006, sentenced him to one year of probation and ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service and pay a $150 fine.

There is no record of any discussion of Stangel’s convictions for drunken driving and criminal property damage in the minutes of a Sept. 17, 2007, hearing to consider his request for early dismissal. And there is no mention of the convictions in the file.

At the end of the hearing, Circuit Judge Virginia Crandell dismissed the gun possession charge and released Stangel from court supervision.

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Kalapa: Put Emphasis On Restructuring Government

Lawmakers are finally beginning to realize that there is no place to run to raise more money to keep feeding that voracious animal called state and county government in Hawaii. They also realize that one of the biggest cost items in their budgets is personnel costs and the related benefits paid to public employees. While one response is to reduce the size of the public workforce, the more critical strategy is to reduce, if not right size, the benefits offered public employees. While it may seem like heresy, especially to the public employee unions, the reality is that the generous benefits are unique to the public sector as the private sector has long ago shifted away from defined benefit retirement plans and from any kind of supplemental healthcare coverage for retirees.

And as lawmakers learned this year, these changes cannot affect current employees. Thus, these reforms can only apply to future employees.

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State formalizes pact to assist military kids

Hawaii's participation in an interstate compact aimed at easing the transition for military children between school districts and states was made permanent Friday.

In a ceremony, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law House Bill 4, which removes a June 30 sunset on Hawaii's participation in the Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission. Hawaii first joined the commission in 2009.

Thirty-nine states have adopted the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children since 2008 as a way of ensuring military kids get uniform treatment when transferring from state to state, including credit for the work they have already done….

About 8 percent of Hawaii's public school students — more than 14,000 — come from military families. Thousands more military children in the islands attend private or home school. (The compact only covers public school students.)

Visit to learn about the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission.

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Mortgage Foreclosure Task Force members warned to Stop Lobbying

The state Ethics Commission has warned members of a state mortgage foreclosure task force not to testify before the state Legislature as paid lobbyists or staff for interest groups.

In a May 26 memo, Leslie Kondo, the executive director of the Ethics Commission, said several members of the task force may have testified or lobbied on mortgage foreclosure issues during the last session, when lawmakers passed – and Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed – significant mortgage foreclosure reform.

The task force, created last year and scheduled to sunset in 2012, made several recommendations to lawmakers before session.

A review of the testimony on the mortgage foreclosure reform bill shows that several members of the task force testified on the bill on behalf of their interest groups, in some cases urging lawmakers to adopt the task force recommendations.

Kondo said the state ethics code prohibits state lawmakers and employees from being paid to represent another person or business on a matter in which the employee participated.

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Star-Advertiser forecasts continued growth

"Revenues were on pace this year, and we are looking to next year with cautious optimism," said Dennis Francis, president and publisher of Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press Ltd., the Star-Advertiser's parent company.

The Star-Advertiser, which was profitable in its first month, is projecting 3 to 4 percent growth in 2012, Francis said.

"Our first-year numbers were in line with most other profitable dailies around the country," Francis said. "I think most businesses now are feeling like they are beginning to come out of the recessionary times."

The newspaper, the 60th-largest daily in the nation and the largest in the state with an average circulation of 124,000 daily (139,000 on Sunday), published its first issue a year ago today.

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Rod Tam Pleads No Contest To New Charges

The state attorney general accused Tam of using campaign money for personal use from February 2008 to January 2009. The new charges are misdemeanors.

Tam appeared in court to face the new charges. He was also scheduled for sentencing in another case. A judge on Tuesday delayed sentencing without a presentence investigation into the new charges. Tam waived his right to a jury trial.

In November, Tam pleaded guilty to 26 misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor charges of theft and falsifying documents related to claiming reimbursements for meals.

HNN: Former City Councilman awaits sentencing

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Homeless plan or security sweep?

Abercrombie was quoted as saying it’s a “happy coincidence” that the plan will move many of the homeless out of Waikiki and the main city corridor before APEC.

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz mentioned a moral obligation to help the homeless, but admitted APEC is a “handy deadline” to show some progress.

Mayor Peter Carlisle said the added police and security forces for the conference will be keeping a special eye on the homeless.

“Some of them are violent, some of them are mentally ill, some are so intoxicated you can’t roust ‘em,” he said. “And that’s something we simply just can’t tolerate during this particular period of time.”

The question is whether it’s motivation that really matters or results.

If the homeless are moved only temporarily out of Waikiki and the central city — or pushed to other locations where they’re just a problem for someone else — the program will be a disgrace by any measure.

But if the sweep finds actual solutions and services for a fair number of homeless and gets them into better situations for themselves and the community, do we really care what motivated the timing?

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APEC Host Committee announces new executives

The APEC 2011 Hawaii Host Committee announced on Monday the appointments of Tim Johns as executive vice chair, Randy Tanaka as chief operating officer, and Jasmine Tso as director of marketing and promotions.

(This should have been done months ago.)

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Hawaii's first full-time chief information officer to be announced by Gov. Abercrombie

The chief information officer will lead a seven-person information technology office designed to upgrade the state government's aging computer and technology systems.

The chief information officer will evaluate the state's technology needs over the next two years and then implement a plan in 2013.

Abercrombie announced his technology initiative in March, and since then his administration launched a nationwide search for a CIO.

Abercrombie also planned to sign legislation into law Tuesday spending $1.2 million for the creation of the state information technology office.


CIO Pops Up in this Story: Abercrombie’s Tough Deal: Governor demands Control over decision to “Extend Life”

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Van pool fees likely to increase

More than 1,600 users of the ride-sharing program Vanpool Hawaii face higher monthly fees to get to and from work.

For 17 years the program was funded by federal money funneled through the state Department of Transportation. But the Federal Highway Administration decided to stop subsidizing the program in April 2010.

Since then the state has spent $3.7 million out of the highway fund to subsidize the program. But the state decided this month to stop the subsidy, and is working with Vanpool officials to identify other sources of federal funding. The program costs about $3.5 million a year to operate.

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Atomic Monkey: State Representative Pine Latest Victim of Dirty Cyber Trickster?

CivilBeat reported on the apparent hacking of Representative Kymberly Pine’s email. …One “Ewa Resident” in the political consulting business with a pattern of ending his professional relationships with an explosion of controversy and slander is one Eric Ryan. Is he the latest mystery hacker?

It sounds awfully familiar.

One of Ryan’s previous clients, the fringe Republican candidate, John Carroll, got the “treatment” a couple of years ago. Carroll’s website, administrated by Ryan, mysteriously morphed into an anti-Carroll hate screed after an apparent falling out between the two. “” (now removed) became a pseudo-official-looking, campaign spending commission complaint portal listing Mr. Carroll’s crimes (real and imagined). The motivation was a combination of unpaid invoices owed to Ryan and that pesky little matter of Carroll’s office being investigated by the police and FBI for cyber crimes involving forged email. Seems that someone inside Carroll’s office, then the hub of the Anti-Mufi, Anti-Rail faction that had been banished by Cliff Slater, was running a dirty tricks operation. Inflammatory emails purported to originate from Hannemann appointees were traced back to Carroll’s office and his “tenant” Eric Ryan….

Ryan is currently on the public payroll on the staff of Councilman Tom Berg. Berg should be very, very careful to pay his “consultant” bills on time.

KITV: Police Investigate Rep. Pine's 'Hacked' Email 12min

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Senate's Indian Affairs to hold hearing on UN statement on indigenous rights

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, will hold an oversight hearing Thursday titled, "Setting the Standard: Domestic Policy Implications of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," a press release from Akaka's office said.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the United States joined in December of last year, encourages nations to support self-determination, eliminate discrimination, and work to secure the rights of their indigenous peoples.

The declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of the world's estimated 370 million indigenous people - including American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians - including the right to perpetuate their culture, identity, and language, and their rights relating to employment, health, education, and other issues.

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Green Killer of Eagles, Hawks: Wind Farms Murder 440,000 birds a Year

Nationwide, about 440,000 birds are said to be accidentally killed at wind farms each year, as well as thousands more bats. With the government pushing for more wind energy farms, that statistic is likely to rise.

Another recovering species, the California Condor, is also said to be at risk from the giant blades.

‘We taxpayers have spent millions of dollars saving the California condor from extinction,’ Gary George, spokesman for Audubon California, told the Times

VIDEO: Wind Energy's Ghosts

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AOL INSIDER: Here Are 12 Reasons Why The AOL-Huffington Post Merger Is Going Down In Flames

AOL bought Huffington Post for $315 million earlier this year.

So far, according to a reader, the integration is going very badly:

Arianna’s people are plotting to eliminate all non websites and redirect all traffic to the No one thinks consolidating to is a good idea from a consumer or an advertiser perspective, but no one will stop Arianna.

Large parts of the org recognize the strategy is bad for the business but everyone is afraid to speak out. Arianna is rumored to have created an enemies list across the company and has directed her loyalists to collect dossiers on other managers across the company and report back on conversations. Her list includes several key business, sales, technology, and marketing executives she wants to eliminate and replace with her people. Anyone who disagrees, even if backed by data and clear rationale’s – goes on the enemies list. Facts don’t matter.

(Isn’t Steve Case a genius!) 

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WaPo: President Obama’s phony accounting on the auto industry bailout

Let’s look at the claims in the order in which the president said them.

“Chrysler has repaid every dime and more of what it owes American taxpayers for their support during my presidency — and it repaid that money six years ahead of schedule. And this week, we reached a deal to sell our remaining stake. That means soon, Chrysler will be 100 percent in private hands.”

Wow, “every dime and more” sounds like such a bargain. Not only did Chrysler pay back the loan, with interest — but the company paid back even more than they owed. Isn’t America great or what?

Not so fast. The president snuck in the weasel words “during my presidency” in his statement. What does that mean?

According to the White House, Obama is counting only the $8.5 billion loan that he made to Chrysler, not the $4 billion that President George W. Bush extended in his last month in office. However, Obama was not a disinterested observer at the time. According to The Washington Post article on the Bush loan, the incoming president called Bush’s action a “necessary step . . . to help avoid a collapse of our auto industry that would have had devastating consequences for our economy and our workers.”

Under the administration’s math, the U.S. government will receive $11.2 billion back from Chrysler, far more than the $8.5 billion Obama extended.

Through this sleight-of-hand accounting, the White House can conveniently ignore Bush’s loan, but even the Treasury Department admits that U.S. taxpayers will not recoup about $1.3 billion of the entire $12.5 billion investment when all is said and done.

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Liquid Robotics raises $22 million for autonomous sea drones

Liquid Robotics, a Hawaii-based startup that makes autonomous marine drones, announced on Tuesday that it has raised $22 million in Series D financing.

The round was led by VantagePoint Capital Partners — if the name sounds familiar, it’s because the venture capital firm is behind cleantech buzz brands Tesla, Tendril, Solazyme, MiaSole and Better Place — and included oil services outfit Schlumberger.

As such, part of the funding package includes the appointment of former Sun Microsystems Federal COO Bill Vass as CEO of the young company. It’s no surprise that Vass’ tour of duty has included infotech-related stints at the Pentagon and U.S. Army.  (What?  No ACT 221 Tax Credits?  No wonder this company is doing so well!)

WaPo: A New CEO And $22 Million For Liquid Robotics, Makers Of Wave-Powered, Unmanned Marine Vehicles

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