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Friday, July 01, 2011
July 1, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:27 PM :: 8697 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development

TEA Party to join July 4 Parades in Kailua, Makawao, Hilo, Kona

Sumitomo: Ready to go all the way with Rail Contract Protest

Hawaii Meth Survey Shows Significant Shifts in Attitudes

4th of July celebration as Schofield turns 40

Gaza Flotilla Roster Portends Another Violent Clash

Martin announces new Honolulu Council Committees

New rail board will not sue City Council over budget

There will not be a lawsuit over who has authority over the budget of the newly established Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation's budget, according to board members who were sworn in today.

The eight voting board members decided to adopt the City Council's operating budget of $20.5 million, and will submit appropriation requests to the City Council any time the budget includes revenues from the city.

The mayor and the City Council disagreed over what the charter amendment that created the board intended. The City Council maintained that it should retain oversight over appropriations.

"Legal action is clearly not in the best interest of the taxpayers, and I am confident we can work with City Council and the administration in providing budget oversight," said Don Horner, chairman of the authority's finance committee.

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HSTA Leader has been out of town for Days, strike vote awaits his return

The head of the HSTA (WIl Okabe) has been out of town (in Chicago at NEA conference) for days, but HSTA leaders contacted KITV to emphasize, their negotiations team is in Honolulu and ready to meet at any time. Attorneys say when HSTA leaders come back town they could take a strike vote, or ask for an injunction against the contact.

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DoE imposes 9 Furlough Days on Teachers

HSTA President Wil Okabe, who is in Chicago for the National Education Association's annual conference, did not return multiple phone messages for comment….

DOE spokeswoman Sandy Goya said Thursday the plan to implement the new contract proposal was moving ahead.  No negotiations with HSTA were planned.

The "last, best" offer, which kicks in today, includes a 1.5 percent pay cut and 7 furlough days for 10-month teachers or nine furlough days for 12-month teachers. Teachers will also have to pay 50 percent of their health insurance premiums, up from 40 percent.

For 12-month teachers the wage reduction will start showing up in paychecks July 20. For 10-month employees it will be reflected starting Aug. 20.

The DOE is working to designate the furlough days for the upcoming school year.

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Hawaii County wants 13 HGEA Furlough Days

Mayor Billy Kenoi has asked the state's largest public-sector labor union to strike a separate deal with Hawaii County, allowing 13 furlough days a year for the next two years.

The mayor is also asking for a 5 percent salary reduction for HGEA employees in Police, Fire and other divisions where furloughs are unworkable.

In a June 9 letter to Hawaii Government Employees Association Director Randy Perreira, Kenoi seeks a supplemental agreement to the contract negotiated at the state level during collective bargaining sessions.

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Frustrated teachers give their union a failing grade

He says most teachers routinely put in extra hours for free and he doesn't want to strike over a five percent pay cut. "I think the biggest loser is the students as far as the strike. I am not sure if anybody wins," said Bernardo….

"A strike is actually kind of scary to me. I'd hate to start the year off in a strike," said Kim Koga, an art teacher at Moanalua Middle School, who is teaching summer school. "It makes me scared that other things are taking priority now instead of education."

With nearly 13,000 teachers in the state there are plenty of views and not all agree with their union.

"I'm fine with a five percent pay cut. That's fine we all have to do our part," said Tanya Hall, a 5th grade teacher with Lanakila Elementary, who has been teaching from 14 years.

Hall says she's most angry with how the current contract situation has been handled because instead of hearing about the details from the union, she was notified by the state. She wishes she could use the nearly $700 in union dues for her family instead.

"I think what's most frustrating is that we are mandated to pay these union dues to a union that is not really representing the full membership of the teachers," said Hall.

She also finds it suspicious the Hawaii State Teachers Association President is at a conference on the mainland instead of being in town talking with members or the Department of Education.

"We don't have a choice. You have to be a part of the union. They automatically take the union dues out of your paycheck you have no choice. But I know there are many many teachers who feel the union is just not connected to the union members and (union leaders) just do what they want to get done and they don't really fight for the right things. So that's another frustrating thing that turns your stomach when it comes to our union," said Hall.

Other teachers also expressed their frustrations that the HSTA has kept them in the dark and failed to respond to inquiries.

"It's disappointing the union I am required to pay dues to can consistently send me emails with coupons for free burritos and discounts to Disneyland but has yet to respond to even ONE of the numerous phone calls and emails I have sent them over the past few years with contract related questions and concerns," stated a teacher in a email.

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2001 Redux: Hirono backs Teachers Strike against Abercrombie

Asked at a Young Democrats of Hawaii forum at Ward Warehouse about what education might look like in 50 years, the Hawaii Democrat wondered what it might be like on Friday, the first day under the imposed contract.

It’s never happened in the state before. And while we recognize that the state is in a really tight financial situation, I think that it is really a tough thing for teachers to be told, `We appreciate what you do. We know we should pay you more. But this is the last and best offer and, pretty much, you’ve got to take it or leave it.’

I don’t think that’s the kind of situation we foresee 50 years from now. When we have collective bargaining, the idea is that the parties should come together and negotiate. Nobody usually walks away with everything they want, but there’s a process.

So I think this situation really bears watching.

Hirono, as lieutenant governor, famously broke with Gov. Ben Cayetano and dropped by the picket lines during the last teachers’ strike in 2001.

After the Young Democrats forum, Hirono — who is running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate — said her comments were not meant as a “pot shot” at Abercrombie or the Department of Education.

CB: Hirono sounded like someone who has spent the last five years in Congress and knows the score while Hanabusa sounds like someone who has spent the last six months in D.C. and is still getting used to jet lag.

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Hee: Legislature forms Abercrombie Cheerleading Team

So now the Legislature is back with a Democratic governor and is dealing with 23 potential vetoes and again like old Democrat days, there is suddenly little interest in overriding vetoes.

Even Slom says Gov. Neil Abercrombie has picked a handful of "not too controversial" bills to reject.  "I don't think any rise to the occasion of causing an override," Slom predicted.

His Democratic colleague Sen. Clayton Hee agrees.  "It seems to me that the Legislature, or at least the Senate, has tried to give him the benefit of the doubt," Hee said in an interview.  That is not to say that Democrats will continue to form the Abercrombie cheerleading team, Hee cautions.  "My own sense is that as we move forward, we will see some erosion of good will," Hee, a legislative veteran, predicted.

What is gone from the argument this year is a Democratic majority spoiling for a fight with the (Republican) governor.  Now it is calmness….

Next year Abercrombie, the Legislature and partisan calmness may not so easily co-exist.

AP: Abercrombie has signed 163 of 252 bills, leaving work to be done before July 12 deadline

LINK: Acts of the 2011 Legislature 

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Nurse: Do not Fear State Retaliation

I believe the problem is, that many nurses are afraid of losing their job or being punished with even lower wages, or in other words, "FEAR" (lower than 34-37% disparity that already exists; remember they wanted a 5 percent cut on top of the 34-37 percent disparity which equals 39-42 percent less than private facility nurses).

FEAR, will not only harm you, me, our families, but the Nursing Profession and the Health of Hawaii. Is this the example we want to show our children? They are watching! Is this the legacy we want to leave our children and Hawaii? …

The State government through poor management, corruption, cronyism, and neglect has created this problem over many years and now wants you to fix it. Is that right?

The choice is yours: Be "Fearful of State retaliation" or stand up for what is right for you and Hawaii and don't be bullied, conned, and misdirected by half truths, and lies. There will never be a better opportunity than now to have our voices heard and the future of State Health Care in Hawaii finally made a priority.

You can give everybody Health Care Insurance, but who is going to take care of them?

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Arizona, Texas, Hawaii all rejecting Gulen Cult Schools

Recent news from three states, including Arizona, shows some officials are growing wary of the nationwide network of Turkish-run charter schools associated with Fethullah Gulen.

Closest to home, Sonoran Science Academy and its parent company, Daisy Education, tried to take over a school on a U.S. Marine Corps base in Hawaii this year. The Mokapu School would have turned into a charter school operated on the Sonoran model, this vision statement says.

So far, they have been rejected. (Last year, I documented Sonoran Science Academy's high use of H-1B visas for Turkish teachers in this story, and its connections to Gulen in this story.)

In Texas, a state legislative committee is going to investigate Harmony Public Schools, which is perhaps the most prominent chain of "Gulen-inspired" charter schools in the country.

The legislative investigation was prompted by the New York Times' recent story on the funneling of contracts to Turkish-run businesses, even if they were not the lowest bidder or had little experience.

Related:  Gulen Cult strikes out in Hawaii Legislature, School?

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The Unbearably Smug Soetoro-Ng pushes Social(ist) Studies

For Maya Soetoro-Ng, the social studies debate in Hawaii isn't about student choice and electives. It's about democracy (ie socialism).

"What we value most as a society is reflected in what we mandate," (who mandates) writes the author, co-founder of Our Public School and education advocate in her letter opposing the Hawaii Department of Education's plan to reduce the number of social studies credits required for graduation.

"Americans love the idea of freedom and have fought and sacrificed in its name again and again, yet without showing students past struggles for human dignity as well as current avenues of political action, students neither appreciate the freedoms they have nor understand how to utilize individual freedom for the greater good." (key word “use” key phrase “for the greater good”)

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Hawaii Regulator Orders Homeowners Insurers to File New Rates

Hawaii Insurance Commissioner Gordon I. Ito has ordered all homeowner insurers to submit new rate filings after a Insurance Division review found that rates were “excessive” when compared to National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) data.

Ito recently issued a memorandum on June 8, 2011, notifying homeowner insurers that they must submit their filings for the Insurance Division’s review and approval.

“After reviewing the most recent data, I concluded that rates should not be this high for homeowners who are struggling during these tough economic times,” Ito said. “We are looking out for homeowners to ensure they are being treated fairly. By implementing rate reductions, the Insurance Division seeks to help homeowners keep more money that is theirs and in turn, this will contribute in turning Hawaii’s economy around.”

In reviewing the latest data from the NAIC, Ito found that for all Hawaii insurers, the losses incurred are significantly below the national average and far below the levels necessary for insurers to earn reasonable rates of return.

By law, homeowner insurers have until Oct. 6, 2011, to make their new filings or risk the possibility of sanctions.

The memo may be found here: http://hawaii.gov/dcca/ins/commissioners_memo/Commissioner_Memorandum_2011-1R.pdf.

 

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Hawaii is #5 destination for International Visitors to US

New York, Florida, California, Nevada and Hawaii (in that order) welcomed the most international travelers last year, according to the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (a branch of the International Trade Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce).

And now that taxes have been raised based on fear of a tourism collapse, the truth is coming out….

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Hawaiian Now Controls 83% of Inter-Island Market

Hawaiian Airlines, the dominant carrier in the interisland market, will add three Boeing 717-200s to its fleet later this year which will provide about 20 more flights per day between Honolulu and the neighbor islands.

The company said Thursday it expects to hire an additional 40 to 50 pilots, flight attendants and ground staff to support the increased operations.

"With our increasing service to Hawaii from Asia, demand for our interisland flights during peak hours of the day and during popular travel periods has never been higher," Hawaiian CEO Mark Dunkerley said. "Adding these aircraft will give us the ability to serve more customers during these periods."

(After using Go! to destroy Aloha, Hawaiian is now effectively a monopoly.  And better yet for Hawaiian—everybody blames Go!) 

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What are Hawaii's most expensive construction projects?

Yes, it’s Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa at Ko Olina in West Oahu. Its $800 million building permit makes it by far the state’s largest construction project. And, it’s almost finished. The resort is scheduled to open on 21 oceanfront acres on Aug. 29.

The second-largest commercial project, with a $300 million building permit, also is in West Oahu but will be less visible. It’s the expansion of the City and County of Honolulu’s H-Power facility in Kapolei. It’s scheduled for completion in May.

You’ll have to travel to Kauai to see the state’s largest residential construction project, according to PBN research. It’s the $500 million Kukuiula development in Koloa, described as a master-planned, 1,500-home residential community, shopping village and golf course. Construction began in 2006 and the full buildout is expected to take another 14 years.

The second-largest residential project is back on Oahu, the $320 million Ka Makana at Hoakalei. Haseko’s big development, in Ewa Beach, began four years ago.

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Albertini: Abercrombie pimping Hawaii’s economic future to the U.S. military

…the big news, remarkably blacked-out by our local media: Governor Abercrombie wants to to move tens of thousands of Marines from Okinawa to be based on Hawaii Island at Pohakuloa.

Dennis Hollier of HawaiiBusiness.com summed it up perfectly:

…the Governor’s gambit to try to pick Guam’s pocket is really about securing Hawaii’s economic future. As he pointed out, one of the findings in the Rand report was that nearly a third of all DOD procurement spending in Hawaii was in construction, mostly in housing development. But that spending is gradually coming to an end. Abercrombie clearly sees developing Pohakuloa for the Marines as a way to sustain the growth of military spending in the state.

Governor Abercrombie cannot serve the greatest good of our citizens by pimping Hawaii’s economic future to the U.S. military.

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Independence Day in Kailua and 4th of July Firework Fundraising in High Gear

Members of the community and Kailua’s representatives, all who have been helpful to fundraising and logistical efforts for this event, will do a final Mahalo and call for donations at the triangle at the main Kailua intersection, entrance to Kailua from 11:30 am to 1 pm.

Individuals and companies can still donate or purchase a Kailua Fireworks Coupon Book. Donations can be made online at http://www.kailuafireworks.com.

RELATED: TEA Party to join July 4 Parades in Kailua, Makawao, Hilo, Kona

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SA: Amend Unconstitutional Big Isle election project

Justice Elena Kagan, writing the dissenting opinion, rightly observed that the challengers merely wanted to have "the field to themselves."

That said, there is a route toward salvaging the essence of the law by removing a competitor's spending as a trigger for supplemental funds. In a proposal favored by the nonprofit advocacy group Voter Owned Hawaii, the candidate needing more campaign funds could start by soliciting more small donations of no more than $20 each from registered voters in their district. These contributions would be compounded through a four-to-one match from the campaign fund. The "equalizing fund" that was triggered by another candidate's spending would be repealed.

This revision was submitted to the Legislature last session in House Bill 1575, which never got past Square One. It should be resurrected next session and passed.

REALITY: ‘Clean Elections’ activist nailed by Campaign Spending Commission

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Herkes: Act 48 - What's it all about?

Act 48 (SB 651) provides comprehensive amendments to Hawaii's foreclosure processes that provide greater protection and fairness for owner-occupants of homes.

The following summarizes the major provisions concerning mortgage foreclosures….

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Arakawa: SMA Law Needed For Sake of Free Enterprise

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa praised the passage of HB117, saying it allows smaller projects to go forward without having to go through a major shoreline permit process.

The law, set to go into effect on Friday (July 1, 2011), raises the threshold of projects required to have a special management area (SMA) major permit from $125,000 to $500,000.

The revision is the first modification made to the threshold value in two decade, since 1991.

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Waiawa corrections officer blames staffing shortage for escape of four inmates

"They met their minimum staffing," Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, state Department of Public Safety director, said. "So we could have had another person, we could have had another three people, but it still could have happened. It could have occurred because it is an open facility, a big facility."

An adult corrections officer, who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation, says, previously, there were two guards assigned to Building 9 during the overnight shift, but that changed about a week-and-a-half ago.

"The public don't know that there's just one ACO for that building," he said. "Manpower was cut short because of budget cuts. We watch 100 inmates by ourselves."

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Church honors Blessed Mother Marianne Cope

Thursday, sisters from Hawaii joined local sisters to honor Cope with Kahilis, which are standards of royalty made with ten thousand feathers, each representing a prayer for the beholder.

Sisters say honoring Cope not only keeps her memory alive, but inspires others to follow in her footsteps.

"For us, all of us, the sisters as well as our friends here in Central New York, it is to know that we can also do something purposeful with our lives," Sister Patricia Burkard said.

Followers are still waiting on a decision by the Vatican to determine if Cope will become a saint.

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VIDEO: Hawaii County budget veto override fails

As expected, Dominic Yagong, Angel Pilago, Brenda Ford, Brittany Smart and Pete Hoffmann voted to override the mayor’s veto. The five councilmembers shared the philosophy that the county should pay as much as possible into the GasB45 payment obligation.

The three Hilo councilmembers, Donald Ikeda, J Yoshimoto and Dennis Onishi voted “no” to the override, supporting the mayor’s decision to go with his original proposal without the changes.

The x-factor in the vote was Fred Blas, who also voted “no” to the override.  (This was the beginning of the end for Guy Enriques, but Puna is not Kau….)

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Reapportionment Software to be Demonstrated

The public will get a chance to check out the software the state will be using to model its redistricting plan today in West Hawaii.

David J. Rosenbrock, the manager of the state's 2011 Reapportionment Project, and Royce Jones, area representative of software developer ESRI, will demonstrate the program beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the Kona Conference Room in Building A of the West Hawaii Civic Center.

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Eco-Cultists starving Turtle-hungry Natives

Turtles – loggerheads and greens, in particular – weighed heavily on the minds of members of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council when it met last month in Honolulu.
Some members, representing longliners’ interests, want to be able to take more loggerheads in their pursuit of swordfish. Others, saying they speak for indigenous peoples of the Pacific islands, say they are being held back from practicing their traditions by not being permitted to kill and consume green sea turtles.

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