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Thursday, July 07, 2011
July 7, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:58 PM :: 5978 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Sources: Democrats scheming to plant candidate in Republican Senate Primary

New Report: Hawaii is Fifth Least Obese State in the Nation

Rep Pine: “If you have been a victim of internet crime, I want to help”

Abercrombie signs bill to tighten OHA trustees’ grip on Native Hawaiians

July 7, 1898: Hawaii Republic Annexed by USA

July 7, 1935: Moscow orders first Communists to Hawaii

Public Teachers' Contract A Private Affair?

Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi won't say how many days of unpaid leave teachers will have to take.

"Nice try, but I cannot talk about it," she told Civil Beat on Tuesday.

Board of Education Chairman Don Horner said much the same: "I have no statement to make about the teachers contract."

If you impose working conditions, aren't you required to tell your employees what those conditions are?

It would seem reasonable. And doubly true for public employees, whose salaries we're all paying.

CB: Report Card on a Teachers Strike: Lessons From 2001

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Shapiro: Abercrombie-imposed HSTA contract does not address 180 day law, RTTT

After the furlough Fridays fiasco, the Legislature tried to mollify angry parents with new laws requiring a minimum of 180 instruction days a year and more hours of the school day devoted to instruction.

In its successful application for a $75 million federal “Race to the Top” grant, the Department of Education and unions representing teachers and principals promised to immediately work toward performance-based contracts for teachers and principals based in large part on improving the poor performance of Hawai‘i students in standardized national tests.

From what his been disclosed publicly, these issues have not been significantly addressed in negotiations between the state and teachers union

RELATED: Abercrombie’s HSTA contract says nothing about 180-day law, RTTT

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Wind Developer: Public Input is Noise, Time is a Nemesis

Public meetings on Molokai last month exposed strong community opposition, with more than 90% of residents opposed. Opponents have cited environmental, cultural, financial, and legal concerns.

But an article in the current issue of PBN quotes Michael Cyrus, a managing partner at Steelriver Infrastructure Partners, one of the investment groups hoping to get a piece of the risky but potentially very profitable project.

Company representatives were on Molokai last week holding community meetings on their wind farm proposal.

There also is the added risk of community opposition to the projects on Molokai and Lanai, an aspect that has derailed large projects in Hawaii in the past.

Both Cyrus and Chris Lovvorn, director of alternative energy for Castle & Cooke, say that at some point it’s important for the project, which traces back to 2007, to move forward.

“You have to go through this process of noise, where you let people feel that they had a platform to speak,” Cyrus said. “But you can’t let the noise distract you because time is a nemesis. You have to let the project digest, but there is also an illusive comfort that comes from doing nothing.”

Public discussion and review dismissively referred to as “this process of noise, where you let people feel that they had a platform to speak,” implying that it’s all an act, all show, designed to give people a false sense of involvement while the real powers-that-be chart their course independently.

And those public meetings on Molokai referred to? You can listen to an audio recording available online.

RELATED: Insights: Molokai, Lanai leaders debate Big Wind, Molokai Wind Developer: “We will pack up and leave.”

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Council Reorganization makes Kobayashi guardian of Ernie Martin’s Secrets

The other organizational change involves the Parks and Human Services Committee, which was dissolved at the end of June and replaced by the Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee. Martin told Civil Beat that Committee Chair Tom Berg had expressed interest in the Royal Hawaiian Band and the Mayor's Office of Culture and the Arts and now has time to get up to speed on those issues before next year's budget work.

But the words "Human Services" being dropped from the name means Berg will likely be unable to pursue a line of questioning he started last month.

On June 21, Berg's committee agenda included a vague discussion-only item. "Review of recent activities in Department of Community Services programs," the agenda said, offering no further explanation.

As the committee approached that agenda item, Kobayashi told colleagues she'd have to leave at noon. Eventually she did depart, leaving the committee without a quorum. After consulting with legal counsel, Berg told a small smattering of attendees that the committee could not even hold discussion without three voting members, and the meeting broke up. He said the conversation would have to wait.

What was Berg referring to with that agenda item? What discussion was to have taken place?

"Misuse of funds," Berg told Civil Beat Wednesday, matter-of-factly. He hoped to learn more about the millions of dollars of federal grants the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says the city's Department of Community Services (DCS) might need to return because it was misused by nonprofit ORI Anuenue Hale.

With Berg's committee technically disbanded and re-created under a new name, oversight over DCS will fall to another committee — the Budget Committee, according to Martin.

"(The decision) was primarily based on my own experience in having worked with Council member Kobayashi when she was budget chair and I was in the Department of Community Services," he said.

What this is all about: Resignation call after Audit reveals “ward heeler’s slush fund” overseen by Honolulu Councilman

Related:  Martin announces new Honolulu Council Committees

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City Rents Downtown Office Space for Rail at $1.4 Million a Year

The Honolulu Rail Transit Project (HART) offices occupy the entire 17 and 23 floors of Alii Place located on Alakea Street, one of the main thoroughfares in Hawaii’s primary business district.

The office space for the 17th floor is 18,698 square feet and costs about $722,000 a year, including lease rent, maintenance fees, utilities and GET tax, said Louise Kim McCoy, the press secretary for the City administration.

The 23rd floor is 16,182 square feet and costs about $633,000 a year, including lease rent, maintenance fees, utilities and GET tax, McCoy said.

That totals $1,355,000 a year for rent alone.

KHON: Rail work may lead to noisy nights

HW interviews Tom Berg:  Rail Done Right?

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$2B Honolulu Sludge Resolution

There's a resolution urging the city to investigate new sewage sludge technologies other than those currently in use at Sand Island.

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Federal Highways Rep: City and State Need to Play Nice

Federal Highway Administration transportation planner Elizabeth Fischer says the city and state's inability to collaborate on transportation issues is undermining long-range efforts.

"Their lack of playing nicely in the sandbox is hurting the overall transportation planning process," she told the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Committee this morning.

Fischer also criticized the board for making unilateral planning decisions without public input and for failing to communicate in "plain English" with the public.

She said OMPO should amend its structure to include a representative of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, which officially exists as of July 1 and "needs a seat at the table."

City transportation chief Wayne Yoshioka said he thinks the city and state agencies play together just fine. He also said the city's Department of Transportation Services, not HART, is the official grantee for rail money from the Federal Transit Administration.

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After getting $140M from Abercrombie, Dante Carpenter tries to take over Hawaii County Garbage

A group of business and political heavyweights pitched a public-private partnership for handling East Hawaii garbage to a receptive County Council on Wednesday, but Mayor Billy Kenoi said later the administration will proceed with its own plans.

The group from Pacific Waste Inc. and BioEnergy Hawaii LLC included former Hawaii County Mayor Dante Carpenter, now chairman of the Hawaii Democratic Party. It made its presentation to the council's Environmental Management Committee, which took no formal action.

The company wants to take over a $9.3 million garbage sort station, invest $5 million into it, and use it to remove recyclables from the garbage before what's left is sent to the adjacent Hilo landfill, which is nearing capacity.

RELATED:  Enough for 35 Pro Bowls: Abercrombie’s $140M gift to Dante Carpenter

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Farms Under EEOC Scrutiny in Hawaii and Washington Receive Federal Aid

 

 

The EEOC claims the farms each defendant could pay between $50,000 and $300,000 per Thai worker on their farm and that hundreds of additional potential claimants and witnesses may be added.

But while the EEOC is trying to retrieve money from these farms, at least three of them have been receiving federal subsidies according to the web site, http://farm.ewg.org/, which documents federal aids and grants.

RELATED: Few Hawaii Farms and Ranches Get Federal Subsidies

 

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'First Step' to a Native Hawaiian Governing Entity – or Dan Akaka’s Swan-Song

While Abercrombie was the ranking official, Big Island state Sen. Malama Solomon was the emcee. Solomon, who was chiefly responsible for pushing SB 1520 through the Senate, was also one of the featured speakers along with three other Hawaiian lawmakers (like Solomon and Abercrombie, all Democrats): state Sen. Clayton Hee, Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria and state Rep. Faye Hanohano.

In fact, it was the Native Hawaiian Senate caucus that fought most for the bill. Galuteria, who explained that the caucus met weekly in his second-floor office overlooking Iolani Palace, said, "It would have been easy to go our separate ways and fortify the notion that Hawaiians can't work together. We wanted to create the new model."

At one point, Akaka himself visited the caucus, and Galuteria said his colleagues had the odd experience of being thanked by the senior senator for their work toward self-determination.

"There wasn't a dry eye in the room," he said.

Abercrombie, in his remarks, choked up several times as he recalled a visit with his late mother to Waianae, where he was accepted into the family of Aunty Aggie Cope, who sat in the front row of the VIPs.

But the governor largely turned the occasion over to others, and the message was obvious: It was a day for Hawaiians. A pule, oli, hula and music marked the program, and many speakers pointed out that in that very room there were people who are living links to ancestors who lived at the time of the 1893 overthrow and 1898 annexation.

"This brings to a conclusion the long journey that began with Queen Liliuokalani in this home," said Abercrombie.

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UK Guardian: The 'Akaka bill' is a US colonial device to ratify the robbery of the Kanaka Maoli people's rights

Protesters will be there today to protest the supposed surrender of the Hawaiian Nation to the United States of America, as the trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and other state agents take position to transition into the new First Nation. Those Kanaka Maoli and other Hawaiian nationals will be holding signs with declarations such as "Hell no, we won't enroll" – punctuated by "and neither would the Queen".

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Scholar Criticizes Census Portrait of Native Hawaiians

The census data on Hawaii’s Native Hawaiians leaves a lot to be desired, a local scholar and community activist say.

U.S. Census Bureau reports — including the decennial census and more-frequent American Community Surveys — are flawed, they say, because they overreport the number of full Native Hawaiians and don't provide enough detail on Native Hawaiians who are of mixed-ethnicity.

“The census inflates the number of…Hawaiians of only Hawaiian ancestry, suppresses the statistics on the ancestrally and ethnically diverse nature of Hawaiians and does not provide detailed data on the various ethnic mixes, such as Chinese-Hawaiian, Filipino-Hawaiian, Caucasian-Hawaiian,” said Hamilton McCubbin, former professor and Director of Research and Evaluation at UH-Manoa’s School of Social Work.

The latest census count shows during the last 10 years, the population of Native Hawaiians in Hawaii has grown by 21 percent to a total of 289,970 people.

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Tammy Duckworth Running in Newly Drawn 8th District of Illinois

Duckworth, 43, an Iraq War veteran who lost her legs after an explosion in combat, left her post as assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs last month, fueling speculation that she was preparing to run.
Her Hoffman Estates home was drawn into the 8th district, where she would face a primary against former Illinois Deputy Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi, who announced that he raised $400,000 in the second quarter.
This is her second bid for Congress after losing to Rep.
Peter Roskam (R) in the current 6th district in 2006. Duckworth spent more than $4.5 million on that race.

RELATED: Redistricting: Tammy Duckworth gets Gerrymandered into Illinois 8th Congressional District

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Secretive Student Caucus selects UH Regents

In the Fall of 2010 I “discovered” a University of Hawaii system-wide organization run by students, dedicated to spending $30,000 per year fighting, ostensibly, for the interests of students. The organization is called the University of Hawaii Student Caucus.

But if you have never heard of the UH Student Caucus, don’t feel too bad. No one I know at William S Richardson School of Law, where I am currently a student, had ever heard of the organization either. The only reason I found it is because I was trying to figure out how the UH Regents are selected. My search brought me to the Regents Candidate Advisory Council which nominates all Regents candidates for selection by the Governor and confirmation by the Senate. The RCAC is composed of seven members, each selected by seven different people in the State of Hawaii. One of those people is the Executive Chairman of the UH Student Caucus….

For full disclosure, I am currently a member of the UH Student Caucus and was appointed the Chairman of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Information and Communication. I became a member of the Caucus in Fall 2010 when I showed up to the first meeting after finding out that the Law School was supposed to have a representative but had forgotten that the Caucus existed and so had not appointed one.

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Legislators resist tough on crime measures to help Abercrombie let criminals out of prison

Legislation for each of these ideas was introduced at the 2011 Hawaii Legislature. While none passed, all remain alive for the 2012 session.

A Civil Beat analysis counted about 150 crime and punishment measures, or roughly 5 percent of all bills introduced this year. They show that some lawmakers think it's important to be tough on crime. Many want to create new offenses and establish more and greater penalties.

But if the bills had passed, they would have further taxed an overburdened criminal justice system, something that would be at cross purposes with Gov. Neil Abercrombie's goal of reforming the system. (by leaving more criminals on the streets)

The governor's "Justice Reinvestment" plan, announced last week, seeks to cut the number of people sent to prison, lower recidivism, prevent crime and bring Hawaii prisoners home from mainland facilities. (which means leaving ore criminals on the streets)

To do that, he's going to need the cooperation of the Legislature. (to resist stiffer penalties for criminals in the name of an undefined wish-washy worn out liberal idea with no substance to it other than letting criminals out on the streets)

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Getting Hawaii’s Homeless Military Population Off the Street

Vietnam veteran, Medal of Honor winner and retired Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Allan Kellogg is a homeless benefit counselor at Veterans Affairs based at Tripler Medical Center. Maintaining an open door policy, his office is filled with boxes of donations ranging from clothing to boots to basic toiletries for homeless veterans.

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Blas denies outside influence as Kona-side media plots revenge

Councilman Fred Blas is his own faction regarding his vote on Hawaii County's $367.3 million operating budget, he said.

"I wasn't influenced by anybody," he said without being prompted, and repeated versions of that three more times in the course of an interview Monday. "I wasn't influenced from my fellow councilmen or the mayor, or the administration."

Blas was one of four council members, along with J Yoshimoto, Donald Ikeda and Dennis Onishi, who last Thursday voted against a veto override of the budget that the council had amended and approved unanimously.

The override effort fell one vote short, handing Mayor Billy Kenoi's administration a second consecutive win on the budget in as many weeks. The same four council members had also denied Yagong's proposal to hire an outside attorney to re-examine what Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida found to be "legal infirmities" in the council-amended budget.

(And now the Kona faction is out for revenge.)

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Expedition To Pacific Garbage Patch Gets Underway—no mention of Plastic Bags

“Once we are there we are going to zigzag and chase down debris. We are going to be looking for derelict fishing nets and buoy, bottles and crates and plastic junk. We want to see the condition of it. We want to see what is the condition of what’s living under it and on it,” said Marcus Eriksen, of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. “It's an ongoing study of how much plastic trash is in the ocean and what is it doing to marine life and ultimately to ourselves. This is the ninth time a team with the California Foundation has crossed the Pacific looking for plastic trash."

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New geothermal production in Hawaii to be discussed during meeting at Hawaii Capitol

 

The informational briefing on geothermal power productions will be held Thursday at the Hawaii Capitol.

Legislative leaders will hear about a geothermal business model that involves Native Hawaiians (OHA) in the development process and respects their culture and lands (gives OHA big bucks).

Organizations participating in the meeting include Innovations Development Group, Mililani Trask of Indigenous Consultants and leaders of the Hawaii Geothermal Working Group.

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DLIR Harassing Contractors over minor Electrical, Plumbing Work

From Smart Business Hawaii: Local licensed contractors received an "Important Notice" from the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) about performing electrical or plumbing work. A burning issue in Hawaii for decades has been the licensed contractor versus unlicensed contractor doing work in Hawaii.

The latest warning notice is different. It only went to licensed contractors and deals with contractors doing work many have always done. Basically, it is now informing them that if they do defined plumbing or electrical work they may be in violation of state labor and consumer laws.

The new notice affects security businesses (who install low power wiring and units), general contractors and even landscapers who work with irrigation systems. This issue is not new: it reached a zenith nearly 20 years ago and was settled; or so the contractors thought. Now it is back.

If taken to the letter of the new notice, many contractors would now be in violation of laws and would find themselves doing certain work as "unlicensed" contractors. Unless they employ separate licensed electrical and plumbing contractors. Is this a part of the continuing battle between the plumbing and electrical unions? Is it about competition, or safety? SBH will look into what is behind the issuing of the "new" notice.

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State to expand online filing system for unemployment claims

Beginning July 11 unemployed workers will be able to reactivate their existing claims using the department’s website. Until now workers could file new claims online but had to visit an unemployment office or call to reactivate those claims if their was a break in their coverage.

The department estimates that more than 50 percent of the weekly unemployment insurance filings are from workers reactivating their existing claims.

ONLINE: http://hawaii.gov/labor/ui

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Family of gay US soldier Andrew Wilfahrt fight for equality at home

Here’s the meme for gays in the military laid out by the UK Guardian.  Better read it and find out what’s coming.

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