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Thursday, June 30, 2011
June 30, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:22 PM :: 8529 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Big Wind to be debated on PBS Insights Thursday

Abercrombie imposes new contract terms for HSTA, UPW

Hawaii Debt, obligations $25K per Taxpayer—4th highest in nation

Study: Rich or Poor, Hawaii DoE Fails everyone more Equally than Most

Teachers furious over union busting by Abercrombie

"We were all anticipating some kind of cut, but we felt we would have the right to vote on it before the DOE would just put it in place," said Larry Denis III, a computer resource teacher at Waikoloa Elementary who joined a discussion about the contract offer on the Hawaii State Teachers Association's Facebook page.

Denis, in a phone interview from West Hawaii, said the DOE's move to unilaterally impose the new contract was "really a slap in the face," adding, "For a majority of teachers, the feedback I'm getting is that we are not happy."

Cynthia Suehiro, a math teacher at Kaimuki High, said she's "furious" over how the teachers contract is being imposed without union approval, and is also angry over increased costs for medical premiums.

"This is just being shoved down our throats," she said. "It's union busting."

The DOE announced last week it would implement its "last, best and final" contract offer for Hawaii's 12,700 public school teachers after being unable to reach a deal with the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

SA: HSTA hard line is unproductive, unions have enjoyed the upper hand for decades

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April, 2001: HSTA rejects 14% Pay hike, goes on strike

In April 2001, Hawaii's public school teachers went on strike, taking to sidewalks and street corners with picket signs after turning down a 14 percent increase in pay and benefits the state had offered.

At the same time, University of Hawaii educators also walked off the job. The dual strikes made news around the country….The strike lasted 20 days….

Ten years ago, when agreement on a contract was reached, teachers received pay raises and bonuses of about 18 percent, short of the 22 percent they initially sought but far more than the 9 percent the state first offered.

Today, the state is telling teachers their pay and benefits will be cut 5 percent — take or leave it — and bypassing the union to impose its "last, best and final" contract proposal unilaterally.

A footnote: In 2001, after the settlement of the teachers contract, the announcement was delayed in order to contact someone who had helped broker deals for the public schools as well as the university and whose presence was wanted for the news conference. That was then-Congressman Neil Abercrombie….

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Most Union Paychecks Down Next Week; Some Will Rise

Blue collar workers and prison guards represented by the United Public Workers union will actually see an unexpected increase in paychecks because their about-to-expire contract is subject to arbitration.

Until new terms are set, the governor said today, members will receive wages and benefits set at June 30, 2009 levels – before the first set of pay cuts and furlough days were instituted last year.

News Release: Abercrombie imposes new contract terms for HSTA, UPW

HNN: This Friday, no furloughs, but cuts

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UH Hilo Chancellor paid $284,000 for absolutely nothing, takes $187K sinecure

HILO -- Former Chancellor Rose Tseng will return to University of Hawaii at Hilo in July as a professor earning $187,596 a year.

After relinquishing her post to Donald Straney in late June 2010, Tseng collected her previous executive pay of $284,000 a year while taking a yearlong professional development leave. Such paid leaves afford former executives an opportunity to "enhance their capabilities and value to the university, and to prepare for new initiatives and projects they wish to undertake," (go on a big fat paid vacation) said UH-Hilo Director of Marketing Gerald De Mello.

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Honolulu Unemployment rate increases

Honolulu's unemployment rate edged up to 4.9 percent in May from 4.6 percent in April but it was still among the lowest out of nearly 400 metropolitan areas surveyed, according to a report released today.

Honolulu tied for the 13th lowest jobless rate with four other metro areas: Charlottesville, Va.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Rapid City, S.D.; and Rochester, N.H., the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.  Bismarck, N.D., claimed the nation's lowest unemployment rate in May at 2.9 percent, while Yuma, Ariz., topped the list at 27.9 percent.

(Obviously the solution is to get rid of the Pro Bowl)

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Resignation Resistance Climbs to 13

Two more appointees asked by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to resign say they will not do so.

Thomas Contrades of the Land Use Commission and Carlito Caliboso of the Public Utilities Commission told Civil Beat Wednesday that they have decided not to leave their posts.

"I have no intention of resigning," said Contrades.

Caliboso said he sent a letter late last week "respectfully declining the governor's request."

That brings the total number of appointees who have said they’re going to resist the governor to 13, while others say they have yet to make a decision….

The Maui News reported Wednesday that only one member thus far — Matilda Yoshioka, who represents Kauai on the public housing authority board — has said she will resign.

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Green Energy: Rep Denny Coffman (D-Kona) fingered for sabotaging HB1520

HB 1520 directs the Public Utilities Commission to investigate an "on-bill financing program" for residential electric customers to help pay for energy efficient or renewable-energy devices and systems through their regular utility bills….

Mikulina, who lobbied heavily for the measure, said supporters were "shocked" that HB 1520 was one of 23 bills Abercrombie announced Monday that he is considering vetoing.

"This is a critical clean-energy measure," he said.

HB 1520 was one of only two measures the governor did not offer an explanation for possible veto.

Ironically, Abercrombie spoke at a energy conservation rally held Wednesday at the Capitol Rotunda, where Mikulina was in attendance and Sierra Club Hawaii members handed out stickers reading, "I Support HB 1520. Advancing Hawaii's Clean Energy Future."

The governor made no mention of HB 1520 in his brief remarks….

A key lawmaker, rep. Denny Coffman — Morita's replacement on House Energy — was uncomfortable with the bill. On April 27, the week before the session ended, Civil Beat reported the bill would be held in conference committee because Coffman had "unanswered questions."

The very next day, succumbing to pressure, Coffman changed his mind and allowed the bill to be heard.

By then, language in HB 1520 had been changed to merely allow the PUC "to investigate" on-bill financing. Only one lawmaker voted against the bill on third and final reading.

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Inouye takes hard-line position on cuts, demands we borrow more money from China, Saudi Arabia

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) on Thursday staked out a hard-line position on spending cuts, arguing that non-security appropriations should not be targeted in a package to raise the debt ceiling.

The move could further diminish the ability of Democrats and Republicans to find a compromise that will lead to a raising of the debt ceiling by Aug. 2, when Treasury says the country will default on its debts.

(We must borrow more money from China to buy crack for people on welfare in housing projects.) 

Army Times: Senator, vet Inouye warns against defense cuts

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Homeless move back in after Sweeps

No specific date has been scheduled for the next cleanup, he said. That could take place in August or September, but it will more than likely be done in late October or early November, closer to the date of the APEC meeting, Meisenzahl said.

“It’s a vicious cycle; after we clean out the area, they (the homeless) return a couple weeks later,” Meisenzahl said.

Before the February cleanup, state workers last cleared the homeless encampment in July 2010. Thirty to 40 people were living there.

Marc Alexander, state homelessness programs coordinator, said there has not been a growing problem under the airport viaduct.

People who live at the site are notified a week and a half before the clearing begins.  Clearing the area takes about two weeks. During past cleanups, the state Department of Transportation hauled away more than 100 truckloads of trash.

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Pono Chong, Blake Oshiro meet with Obama, bullying activists, to discuss next gay move on your kids

After outlining his views on gay marriage at a news conference earlier today — he stopped short of endorsing it — President Barack Obama hosted a reception at the White House for various gay pride groups to further discuss his position.

According to White House officials, the reception observing LGBT Pride Month included invited Administration officials, elected officials and LGBT grassroots and community leaders from around the country, including:

  • Oshiro (D, Aiea-Halawa), the primary author of legislation signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to legalize civil unions in Hawaii for same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
  • Dwight Chong, better known to constituents as “Pono.”
  • Caleb Laieski , Anti-Bullying Activist
  • Dontaee Williamson, LGBT High School Youth Leader

TOTALLY RELATED: The transsexual agenda for Hawaii schools

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Hawaii Transsexual leader is “Pro-pimp”

I’ll be brief. In response to Tracy Ryan’s continuance of mis-truths to confuse the public in Hawaii’s New Sex Trafficking Bill Over Reaches the Mark (Hawaii Reporter) …let me inform you of the law within which HB240 applies (which strictly applies to “Advancing” or “Profiting” Prostitution)….

The reason Tracy Ryan is so against these laws, as said before in public, is because Tracy Ryan is pro-pimp and pro-patron while pretending to be pro-victim, sly enough to use the vernacular of service providers who actually work directly with sex-trafficked victims.

Its not just Mr Tracy Ahn Ryan: Board of Education: the Transsexual-Libertarian Connection

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Hawaii Muslim Gay Rapist and Pimp moves to Alaska—Gets Life Sentence on top of 28 years

This is what happens when a criminal leaves Hawaii….

A federal jury on Wednesday convicted a prisoner of sexually abusing three men in Anchorage jail cells as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.

The prisoner, Sabil Mujahid, 54, was convicted on 13 counts involving attacks on three victims, the U.S. Attorney's office announced. The 12-member jury deadlocked on four other counts involving a fourth man.

Mujahid has already spent most of the last 28 years in prison and now faces a life sentence on 10 of the counts.

His sex trafficking trial is scheduled for October. The charges in that case, in which he is accused of running an Anchorage prostitution ring involving adult women and minor girls, some recruited from a downtown shelter for runaway teens, also carry a life sentence.

Mujahid was convicted in 2009 of being a felon in possession of a firearm and sentenced to 10 years. He has other prior convictions in Alaska and Hawaii.

Prosecutors said the inmate victims were assaulted between May 2009 and May 2010. "Evidence at the trial established that Mujahid targeted younger, smaller men," the U.S. Attorney's office said.

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Remembrance set for man who helped bring the Missouri and Bowfin here

The community is invited to attend a remembrance for Harold B. Estes at 5 p.m. July 9 aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial.

Estes, a retired Navy chief boatswain's mate credited with helping bring the Missouri and USS Bowfin submarine to Hawaii, died May 17 on Oahu at the age of 96.

The Honolulu Council of the Navy League of the United States, Navy Region Hawaii Chief Petty Officers and the USS Missouri Memorial Association, Inc. are organizing the remembrance.

Those wishing to attend the memorial must RSVP in advance at: http://bit.ly/EstesMemorial.

Harold B. Estes: Hawaii WW2 vet to Obama: “Shape up and start acting like an American”

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State to Blame for Ka Loko Dam Failure, Not Jimmy Pflueger, Advertisement Claims

Fred Trotter, who served as President of F. E. Trotter Inc., Trustee of The Estate of James Campbell, and as directors of such boards as the Rehab Hospital Foundation, Maui Land and Pine and Hawaii Management Alliance Association, issued an open letter “to the people of Hawaii” in a full page advertisement in the state’s daily monopoly Star-Advertiser this Sunday on behalf “friends of Jimmy Pflueger.”

(If you are an old boy, it is OK to kill a bunch of people in order to go water skiing and then pay lawyers to stall the courts until you die of old age.  This is the true essence of Hawaii’s elite on full display.)

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Charter school agency taps McKeague as chief

Attorney Roger Mc­Keague has been selected as executive director of the Charter School Administrative Office, an agency that has seen several heads in its short history.

"Roger brings extensive knowledge of Hawaii's charter school system to this position," said Ruth Tschumy, chairwoman of the Charter School Review Panel, which chose Mc­Keague at its meeting June 23..

McKeague previously served as an analyst and adviser in the office of Gov. Linda Lingle and as a special assistant to the director of the state Department of Health. A member of the Hawaii State Bar since 1994, he has also worked as a lawyer and consultant, specializing in civil and business practice.

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UH Research a Story of Progress and Potential

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie and University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood both tout academic research as a key driver of the state's economic growth. While the objective is admirable, little has been said about how far the university has to go before it becomes the kind of buzzing innovation hub they allude to.

Civil Beat, in its series, "University of Hawaii Research: Fulfilling its Promise?", compared UH with four mainland state research universities to see how well it stacks up. We selected two that have established themselves as hotbeds of research and commercialization, and two that better resemble UH in terms of resources and reputation.

The result showed UH still has some distance to cover if the university is going to be an economic powerhouse on the scale of top mainland universities:

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Kauai utility gets hydro support

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has received a letter of support from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources for the exploration of new, small hydroelectric development.

KIUC has been in consultation with DLNR and other state agencies and elected officials as part of its ongoing outreach efforts as the cooperative evaluates the viability of hydropower on Kauai.

"The state supports renewable and hydroelectric energy projects and encourages the Kauai community to move forward in studying the island's hydroelectric potential," said Deborah Ward, DLNR information specialist.

The letter voices concern regarding the potential use of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to "license" projects at the construction phase of development, but recognizes that KIUC so far has not filed any license applications. KIUC has discussed these concerns with state officials and is committed to working with state agencies to determine the best process to ensure that state resources are protected.

The Kauai cooperative serves more than 32,000 electric accounts on the island.

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Brokerage may buy back Maui’s dormant Student Loan securities

The Merrill Lynch brokerage is prepared to buy back $32 million in auction-rate securities that it foisted on Maui County in 2007 and 2008, financial instruments that became almost impossible to sell after the auction system collapsed.

The Maui County Council Policy Committee went into closed session Wednesday to get an update from its outside attorney, Joachim Cox, who had good news and bad news: A county lawsuit is on the verge of success, and the lawyer's bill is approaching half a million dollars.

Discovery in a civil suit started in 2010 uncovered emails from Merrill Lynch brokers that demonstrated the investment firm knew the auction-rate system was headed for a crash, but continued to assure county finance officials that the paper was as good as money-market certificates.  This continued up until the day before the auctions failed in January 2008.

And who was their salesman in Hawaii? 

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Supreme Court decision appears to nullify a campaign funding project here

Hawaii County Council candidates whose campaigns are publicly funded will likely no longer be eligible for extra money to compete against big-spending opponents after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Arizona law on public financing.

The court, in a 5-4 decision Monday, held that the Arizona law, which provided publicly funded candidates with matching funds to compete against privately financed candidates and advocacy groups, "substantially burdens political speech" protected by the First Amendment.

A Hawaii County pilot project offers similar equalizing funds to publicly financed candidates who are outspent by privately financed opponents, a provision modeled after the Arizona law.

"We believe it's going to impact the program," said Kristin Izumi-Nitao, executive director of the state Campaign Spending Commission, which oversees the pilot project.

The Legislature approved the project in 2008 to test the viability of publicly financed political campaigns through three Hawaii County Council election cycles in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

(And now that they defeated Guy Enriques, their job is done….  Brittany Smart got elected to Hawaii CD6 through an unconstitutional program.)

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Broadband: Star-Advertiser gives commentary space for Commercial Advertisement by Former State Employee

using airwaves traditionally set aside for satellite communications seems to be the most fertile ground for innovation and political consensus. Already, the FCC's decision to enable satellite companies to build hybrid ground-based mobile wireless services has led LightSquared to invest a planned $14 billion and a commitment to reach 92 percent of the country with 4G wireless by 2015.

LightSquared has developed the first, wholesale-only nationwide integrated 4G-LTE wireless broadband and satellite network that will offer consumers the speed, value and reliability of universal broadband connectivity. This virtually guarantees absolute coverage in unserved and underserved areas as well as redundancy for emergency use in the event of natural disasters. Hawaii is one of the early states where LightSquared intends to roll out service.

(Here’s the kicker…drumroll please…)  “Brysen Poulton, a former education specialist with the Division of Consumer Advocacy is an independent communications and government relations consultant.”  (Clash cymbals!)

But, but but if Hawaii uses Satellite, how can we also use broadband for…

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Hawaii Judiciary: We Can't Handle Foreclosure Flood

On June 15, lending giant Fannie Mae announced that it would convert all its new and pending non-judicial foreclosures in Hawaii to judicial foreclosures. Fannie has said it made the move in response to Act 48, a new law that placed a temporary moratorium on non-judicial foreclosures in Hawaii.

Last year, the courts handled about 10 percent of state's foreclosures. But some mortgage experts say 2011 will be a different story.

HR: New Hawaii Foreclosure Law Controversial in Industry

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Suit: Hawaii PD Officer stood by during attack

The TRO filing, and a later one by Taniguchi, indicate a previous business relationship between Taniguchi and Chung that had gone sour, and both claimed ownership of the trucks.

According to the suit, Chung, Stovall, the Wongs and others attacked Taniguchi and Sean and Kaiulani Lucas. It alleges that Taniguchi suffered "broken/fractured ribs, chest wall pain, head and facial injury, contusions (and) visible bruising."

The lawsuit states that Stovall struck Kaiulani Lucas and attempted to steal five gold bracelets from her arm, and that she was treated "for observable injury resulting from the incident, including bruises and contusions on her arm." It also alleges that Stovall robbed Sean Lucas of "a gold necklace chain and two gold rings that were on his neck" and that Stovall, Chung and others "intentionally hit and beat and injured Sean Lucas."

In addition, the document alleges that Chung, Ramos, the Wongs and others struck and kicked a 16-year-old boy, causing "head injury, facial and scalp contusions ... (and) scrapes and abrasions." It also claims the boy and his 5-year-old sister watched as their mother -- who, according to the suit, had called 911 -- was assaulted by defendants.

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Hawaii has 4th cleanest beach water, 2nd most beach closures 

Pollution from stormwater runoff and sewage overflows continue to plague America’s beaches, contributing to 4,215 closing and advisory days in Hawaii and the second-highest number of closing and advisory days nationwide…

This year’s report found that water quality at America’s beaches remained largely steady, with 8 percent of beachwater samples nationwide exceeding public health standards in 2010, compared to 7 percent for the previous four years. In Hawaii, the percentage of health standard exceedances held steady (3%) in 2010 from the previous year. "While Hawaii was ranked 4th overall in beachwater quality, the high number of closings and advisories demonstrates more action can be taken," said Harris. "For example, wastewater plumes off the island of Maui have been identified as a result of municipal wastewater being injected into wells. Plainly, as a state, we need to do a better job of protecting our fragile marine environment for the enjoyment of residents and tourists alike."

SA: Report puts isle beaches in top 4 for clean water

HR: BEACH BUMMED! The Poisoning of Big Island Beaches

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Hilo is One stop to Europe: New Hilo flights a hit with locals, Europeans

One unexpected benefit of the new daily service, which usually starts in Los Angeles but also includes a Saturday run from San Francisco, has been a number of European visitors, who start in London and change planes in California to fly to Hilo and visit the volcano.

"Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a World Heritage Attraction," Applegate said. "These are bucket list attractions."

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Firecracker sales for July 4 fizzle with new law

The good news for Don Quijote officials is that their three Oahu stores are the only retailers on the island where the fireworks can be bought legally for upcoming Fourth of July celebrations.

The bad news is the city sold only 93 of the $25 permits that allow residents to buy up to 5,000 firecrackers a pop, according to the Ho­nolulu Fire Department.

The low numbers all around indicate Monday will be a fairly quiet Independence Day, the first fireworks-oriented holiday since Oahu's new fireworks ordinance went into effect. The new law bars fountains, sparklers and other types of "novelty" fireworks. Only traditional red firecrackers are still allowed, and they can be bought only with a permit.

June 23 was the last day to get a firecracker permit.

Makiki resident Swinton Aniol, 43, found that out the hard way Wednesday afternoon while shopping for other items at Don Quijote.

Aniol said he thought the new law banned all fireworks, and only recently did he learn that he could still set off firecrackers

KHON: Firecracker sales a dud so far

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More Federal Funds?  Hawaii 48th in Farm Subsidies

According to a 2011 Farm Subsidy Database, Hawaii received $68.2 million in subsidies from 1995 to 2010, which puts Hawaii at 48th out of 50 states….

However 10 percent of the farmers who did in fact collect subsidies were larger beneficiaries – they took in 67 percent of all monies amounting to $37.3 million over 16 years.  Some of the top beneficiaries include…

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City approves request to alter 4 Oahu streams for rail project

The Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management voted Wednesday to approve the city's request to alter four streams for the proposed rail project.

The city will have to build concrete columns in or near the Waiawa Tributary and the Kapalama, Moanalua and Nuuanu streams to support the guideway.

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Ecos threaten suit over Lahaina Sewage

Earthjustice has given Maui County a 60-day notice of intent to sue for violations of the federal Clean Water Act at the county's Lahaina wastewater treatment plant.

The notice was sent on behalf of four community groups: the Sierra Club-Maui Group, the Hawai`i Wildlife Fund, the Maui chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and the West Maui Preservation Association.  

To read the news release, click here: http://www.tinyurl.com/Lahaina-notice
To read the formal notice, click
here

Maui News: Policy panel moves toward EPA settlement

Two Percent or not Two Percent?

Councilors renege on pledges to support Open Spaces fund.

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WaPo: The missing facts in President Obama’s news conference

A feisty President Obama met with reporters Wednesday — a sure sign that the dispute over the debt limit has reached a critical stage.

The president, clearly intending to increase pressure on the GOP, lambasted Republicans for, in his words, refusing to get rid of “tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires” before cutting aid to the less well-off. He also addressed questions on Libya.

Let’s parse some of his answers and explain what he means — and how factual he was….

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