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Thursday, July 14, 2011
July 14, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:13 PM :: 8231 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

NYT: Book Challenges Obama on Mother’s Deathbed Fight

Abercrombie adds 10 more HGEA positions

Supreme Court Offers Free Divorce Law Program on July 14

HSTA to Abercrombie: Don’t turn your back on a friend

"When you disagree with a friend, don't turn your back and walk away," Lewis, who is also an English teacher at Kapolei High School, says in the ad. "Always extend your open hand, but always defend what is right. Hawaii's Constitution is our guarantee of equality and fairness for all."

Audio: http://media.ohio.com/audio/jlewis60R.mp3

SA: HSTA, State can agree on Drug Testing

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Just in time to give it to the Unions: Hawaii 2011 Tax Revenues Higher Than Expected

Total deposits into the state's general fund were down 0.9 percent for the year, compared to the previous year, according to preliminary figures from the Hawaii Department of Taxation. That's stronger than the minus 1.6 percent growth forecast by the Council on Revenues, which lawmakers relied on to build the state's 2012 and 2013 budgets.  (How convenient.  Did they lowball their estimates to pressure the legislature into tax increases?)

"If the accrued refunds are factored out, general fund deposits have increased by 3.4 percent," Tax Director Fred Pablo said in a prepared statement.

Within the general fund, General Excise and Use Taxes — the single largest category — for the year totaled $2.49 billion, up 7.7 percent over last fiscal year. Transient Accommodation Tax collections totaled $284.5 million for the year, up almost 27 percent.

As explained:

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Commission refuses to Disenfranchise Military -- stands by controversial redistricting data

The commission didn't backtrack Tuesday on last month's 8-1 vote to count nonresident troops, which is projected to deny the Big Island of a fourth state Senate seat because most military members live on Oahu.

But Reapportionment Commission Chairwoman Victoria Marks said a backup redistricting map that excludes nonresident military should be considered in case a lawsuit is filed and a judge rules against the commission's decision.

AP: Residents can create election district maps on state website Check it out here.

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Maui, Hawaii County Reapportionment Advisory Councils Reject Lawsuit over Military

The Reapportionment Advisory Councils for Maui and Hawaii County discussed Tuesday the possibility of litigation to oppose an Oahu-island bias in drawing new voter district lines to conform to the 2010 U.S. Census.

But Madge Schaefer, a member of the Maui advisory panel, said members determined that litigation could not be an action by the advisory panels, but it could be undertaken by individuals or a separate group.

Members also judged it would be premature to undertake a lawsuit because the state Reapportionment Commission has not yet drawn up voting district maps or heard public comments during statewide hearings, she said. The public hearings won't happen until August or early September, she added.

Last month, the commission voted to begin including nonresident members of the military when it redraws political district lines. The move is expected to favor Oahu, with its heavy military population, and deny the Big Island an additional state Senate seat.

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Hirono raises $300K for Senate Run

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono’s campaign has told supporters that the congresswoman raised nearly $300,000 in the last quarter for her run in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate….

The Hirono campaign, which raised more than $100,000 in the first quarter of the year, has about $545,000 in cash on hand, according to Nielsen’s email….

Case, in an email to supporters on Tuesday, said his campaign exceeded quarterly fundraising goals but did not provide a figure.

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Hirono opposes effort to allow States more local control over Federal Education Funds

Her opposition to the measure didn't stop with her vote against the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act on Wednesday. She followed up by calling Civil Beat to share her frustration with a bill that she says overturns years of effort to improve equal opportunity.

"I view this bill as a full frontal assault on the needs of disadvantaged, at-risk and English Language Learner children," Hirono said in a phone call Wednesday. (Bla, bla, bla)

The bill proposes giving states increased flexibility over how they spend federal Title I and Title III funds, which are currently designated for education-related services targeted at low-income students and English Language Learners.

The state received about $52 million from the U.S. Department of Education this year for the four programs that would be affected, according to Hirono's office:

  • Title I, Part A — Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies: $47,568,135
  • Title I, Part C – Education of Migratory Children: $833, 732 * Title I, Part D, Subpart 1 – Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At- Risk: $354,956
  • Title III, Part A - English Language Acquisition State Grants: $2,990,877

H.R. 2445 would allow school districts to redirect those funds to other activities unrelated to core academics for low-income and ELL students, Hirono said.

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Dallas News: Just what Honolulu needs: 20 miles of elevated train track

cost estimates just to build the system range from the city's $5.3 billion to the state's $7.2 billion. Voters approved the thing in the 2008 general election, under heavy pressure from Sen. Daniel Inouye and other big shots, with a whopping 50.6 percent of the vote.

Remember, this is for 20 miles of elevated rail through one of the most scenic places on the planet. Do the math? Why, yes. That comes out to $265 million per mile on the low end and $360 million per mile on the high end. And that presumes everyone is telling the gospel truth in estimating costs, which never, never, never happens.

The cost presumes the feds kick in $1.8 billion in "quick start" transportation funding -- certainly not assured in these debt-ridden times -- with the rest made up by a half-cent sales tax on the poor schmoes who live there.

Don't take my word for it. Read Prevedouros' piece and also watch these promotional videos provided by Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART, get it?).

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China gives Eased Access only to Obama-connected States

"APEC is really a mechanism or vehicle for us to showcase what's going on in Hawaii," said Peter Ho, chairman of the Hawaii Host Committee for APEC. "Everyone clearly recognizes the opportunity China presents and we see these efforts as a building block for future economic growth."

Business initiatives are under way in advance of the first APEC summit to be held in the United States since 1993, said Schatz, who is flying to China on Sunday.

"China is interested in seeking economic opportunities in America and they are especially comfortable in Hawaii because of our geographic proximity, and there's an aspect of being culturally comfortable as well," he said.

The five-day trip, which will take Schatz from Beijing to Guangzhou, will ease the way for isle businesses that want to enter China. It will build on an agreement signed in January between the Beijing International Brand Management Center and the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, Schatz said. Only Hawaii and Illinois, Obama's home state, have been offered this China advantage, he said.

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Hawaii most expensive State to own a Car

But why should it cost $9,000 more to own and operate a car in Connecticut than it does in New Hampshire, just 100 or so miles up the road?

The answer is because New Hampshire has no sales tax, and the cost of everything from insurance to fuel and maintenance is lower there. So a $29,000 car will end up costing $49,890 over five years if you live in Connecticut, but only $40,602, if you reside in New Hampshire….

Forbes asked Edmunds’ analysts to come up with a sales-weighted average by state, which revealed that New Hampshire, South Dakota and South Carolina are the best states to own a vehicle, while Hawaii, California and Alaska are the most expensive. The gap between the cheapest state, New Hampshire, and the most expensive, Hawaii, is almost $13,000.

The two biggest factors tend to be taxes and fees and the cost of insurance. In Oregon, for example, car buyers pay an average of just $129 in fees, but in Arizona, they’ll pay an average $4,346. Insurance is cheapest in South Dakota ($4,723) and most expensive in Alaska ($11,481). In West Virginia and Louisiana, insurance will run about $11,000 over five years, but you’ll pay half that if you live in Georgia or North Dakota.

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Ratepayers to fork out 2% of bill for Hawaii Clean Energy Subsidies

Hawaii electric utility payers are already paying 1.5% of the projected utility revenues to fund the Public Benefits Fund, or the PBF. The fund is administered by Hawaii Energy, a private for-profit entity that was the winning bidder under a competitive bid process. Prior to this, Hawaiian Electric Company(HECO) administered and collected this fee.

The PBF was established to fund electricity efficiency programs such as rebates for home appliances, industrial and commercial energy efficiency, solar water heaters, and light bulbs.

In 2013, the PBF will increase to 2% of total projected electricity revenue. In 2011, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimated that PBF would generate $61.7million. This would increase to $70million in 2013 and $89.3million in 2014.

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While Hawaii’s Shipping Prices Increase Sharply, U.S. Shipping Market Sees Costs Plunge

“The Drewry Container Rate Benchmark for a loaded 40-foot container from Hong Kong to Los Angeles fell to $1,636 in the week ending July 11, down from $1,753 the week before. The rate is the lowest since January 2010,” the paper reports. ”The measure marked the second straight week-to-week decline after the rate benchmark had grown or been stable for most of May following weakening pricing this spring. The July 11 measure was down 37.7 percent from the same week a year ago, when the rate was $2,624 per container.”

Prices are expected to fall another 20.8 percent over 2010 prices for the average east-west ocean freight (excluding fuel costs), the Journal reports.

In Hawaii, businesses and consumers that rely on Matson and Horizon to bring the majority of their goods to the state have been deluged with bad news about price increases progressing at a substantial rate.

Discussions with shippers, and reviews of Matson’s tarrifs, show Hawaii’s rates are at least $5,000 to $6,000 per 40-foot container and often several thousand dollars higher.

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Liquor Commissioner Arrested, Charged for Bribery

An Oahu grand jury has indicted a former Honolulu Liquor Commission employee on bribery charges.

Tuesday's indictment charges training specialist Loreto R. Raquel Jr., 39, of Wahiawa, with two counts of bribery. Each charge is a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Honolulu police said one of the charges alleges Raquel sold a liquor card at the Salt Lake Shopping Center on Feb. 16 to a person who had not taken the test to qualify for the card. The card allows the recipient to sell or serve alcohol.

Police arrested Raquel at a Salt Lake Boulevard home an hour later. He resigned from the Liquor Commission office after the arrest….

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Hawaii to hire 10 agriculture inspectors

Abercrombie says he approved their hiring as part of his plan to protect the environment, grow more local food and restore the economy.

The Department of Agriculture says it will cost about $515,000 to restore these 10 positions, including salary and fringe costs. The positions are paid for by a pest inspection and eradication fund that importers pay into based on cargo weight.

The number of inspectors statewide dropped from 95 prior to layoffs in 2009 to 50 currently.

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$8M Ponzi scheme leader sentenced to 12 years

A Maui accountant who led a long-running Ponzi scheme that cost his investors $8 million was sentenced Wednesday to serve nearly 12 years in federal prison without the possibility of parole.

Lloyd Y. Kimura used his business, Maui Industrial Loan and Finance Co., to attract investments since 1986, taking money collected from later customers to pay initial clients. He pleaded guilty in January.

Kimura, the brother of Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Jay Kimura, was ordered to repay his 50 victims the $8 million they lost.

SA: Ponzi scheme earns Lloyd Y. Kimura 140 months in prison and an $8 million bill

RELATED: Robert Iwamoto trust sued over Maui Ponzi scheme

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Pacific Office Compliance Plan Accepted by NYSE Amex

Pacific Office Properties Trust, Inc. (NYSE Amex: PCE), a real estate investment trust owning interests in 45 office buildings primarily in Hawaii and California, announced today that the NYSE Amex (the “Exchange”) has accepted the Company’s plan for regaining compliance with the Exchange’s listing standards (the “Plan”).

The Plan was submitted in response to notification from the Exchange of the Company’s non-compliance with certain continued listing standards. With the Exchange’s acceptance of the Plan, the Company’s listing is expected to continue through October 19, 2012, by which time the Plan calls for the Company to regain compliance with all continued listing standards.

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State Board Gives Nod To New Aloha Tower Marketplace Deal

Newly seated board members of the Aloha Tower Development Corporation voted to allow the leasehold transfer between the current owners of the marketplace to a company called Hawaii Lifestyle Retail Properties.

Some say the long term marketplace potential is how it might dovetail with the city's rail plans.

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Hawaii approves 3-year contract with CCA

Inmates are housed in these modern, state-of-the-art facilities and have the opportunity to enroll in meaningful cultural, vocational and rehabilitation programs staffed by experienced and credentialed counselors and educators.

“CCA is grateful for the opportunity to serve our government and community partners in Hawaii and Arizona,” said Jim Schomig, CCA Facility Operations Managing Director.

“I’m proud of the more than 330 employees at Saguaro and the team at Red Rock for their daily commitment to CCA’s operations,” Grande said. “Congratulations to them and to the team at the FSC who helped bring this award to us.”

CCA Saguaro Correctional Center is led by Warden Todd Thomas and houses about 1,600 medium security inmates with a correctional staff of more than 330. Red Rock Correctional Center, led by Warden Bruno Stolc, has a capacity of nearly 1,600, as well and a staff of 340. Both facilities are nationally accredited by the American Correctional Association, which represents the gold standard for professional correctional management and services in the country.

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WHT Helps Devalue Queen Liliuokalani Trust

But a county news release states changes approved by the County Council in 1993 required the 25-acre area be left as open space because of extensive archaeological resources on the property. That same 1993 rezoning by the council created a commercial district on other trust lands that are now the site of the Makalapua Center in Kona and include retail stores Kmart and Macy's.

In April, county Tax Office staff had said the commercial designation was changed to archaeological/historical because of findings on the site. But Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd, speaking in general and not about specific property, said there is no such zoning as archaeological/historical….

It's not the first time developers along the future Ane Keohokalole Highway have come under scrutiny. The road, being built with $35 million in federal stimulus money, is expected to greatly increase the value of property along it, but it's unknown how much of the funding could replace developer contributions to the road.

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CB: Hawaii Legislature Needs to Give Records Office a Backbone

Michael Levine, then working for The Garden Island on Kauai, who in 2009 reported the case that undermined the power of the OIP, prompting its acting director to say that it would no longer issue issue formal opinions, and instead advise requesters that they had the right to sue.

At that time, blogger Ian Lind, who was involved in 1988 when the public records law was written, explained: "OIP’s retreat appears to go far beyond the recent court ruling and appears to reflect the agency’s struggle to cope with a long-term decline in funding as well as recent budget restrictions."

"It appears that OIP is voluntarily giving up its enforcement power, citing what it called the lack of “specific guidance” from the ICA (Intermediate Court of Appeals)," Lind wrote.

It's time the Legislature provide that specific guidance.

AP: State studies social media's effect on open records law

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CB: Few Cities Track Police Crimes, Honolulu Included

"Generally speaking, I know of no agency that documents the convictions of its sworn personnel," says Thomas Martinelli, a police misconduct expert and former Detroit police officer and attorney who trains agencies across the country in police ethics and liability issues.

Furthermore, Martinelli says legal advisors for police departments across the country likely "do not encourage the keeping of such statistics, on a list or database, as they would then be discoverable in any civil lawsuits filed against the department."

That void is what moved David Packman to set up The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project, an independent, one-man campaign that gathers and distributes data on police misconduct….

The Honolulu Police Commission "does not routinely investigate criminal matters regarding members of the Honolulu Police Department," according to James Hughes, the commission's executive officer.

And the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center, the state agency that manages information on residents' criminal history, does not distinguish and keep separate data on HPD officers who've been convicted for crimes.

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Kauai Luddites fail in Second Effort to Kill Hydro Projects 

For a petition to be valid it must contain 250 or more signatures of KIUC members in good standing. At the completion of the verification process by KIUC and legal counsel it was determined that of the 291 signatures submitted 185 were valid, requiring no further action by the KIUC Board of Directors, a KIUC news release states.

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Mega solar farm in Kekaha approved

The county Planning Commission on Tuesday approved a solar farm nearly three times the size of the state’s largest solar facility in operation.

When completed, Kikiaola Solar in Kekaha will be generating an estimated 3.5 megawatts of power. The largest solar farm in the state, completed in January in Kapahi, generates 1.2 megawatts….

A new state law, federal incentives and dropping solar panel prices may add to the project’s viability.

On Monday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 631, which states that solar projects on agricultural B lands do not have to seek approval from the state Land Use Commission, according to Ushio.

The Kikiaola Solar project is an industrial use on agricultural land, necessitating special permits to go forward.

“We are grateful the governor signed the bill,” he said. “We would be stuck for another year.”

Federal incentives will also help the project, which will cost between $20 million and $30 million, he said….

Ushio said Pacific Energy will likely break ground by the end of the year (just in case Congress lets subsidies expire)

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1000 Solar Panels save $300/day from Electric Bill

HONOLULU – The State of Hawai’i’s Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) has completed the installation of 1,005 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the Kalanimoku Building in the downtown Honolulu Capital District as part of the State’s ongoing efforts to lead by example in reducing Hawai’i’s dependence on imported oil. The system is already saving 12 percent of the building’s use, resulting in $300 of daily savings in electricity costs.

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Enforcers on hunt for bottomfish poachers

Federal and state officials have stepped up enforcement of regulations banning the taking of several bottomfish in the main Hawaiian Islands.

State and federal agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, are conducting additional patrols this month in island waters as well as dockside and at boat ramps, said Jeffrey Pollack, special agent for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Rollman vs Ryan Part …?

It seems everyone lies about poor Eric Ryan, even the the Police and City Prosecutor’s Office. Ryan describes Peter Carlisle and Chris Van Marter as “prosecutorial hatchet men,” and dismisses a recent summary of a criminal investigation as “the world’s lamest evidence of wrongdoing.” The recently published report by Deputy Prosecutor Van Marter, contains some significant clarification as to who is, and has been, lying about what.

On September 15, 2008, I filed a complaint with HPD because someone had forged my name to a slanderous email promoting the derogatory website “firepanos.wordpress.com,” and spread it all over town. It basically said how proud I was of being a racist and an idiot and came from a fake email account made to look like it was from the campaign.

A day later when the media came knocking at the location to which the email had been traced, Eric Ryan was asked, directly, if he was responsible:

“Heavens no! I don’t know why anyone would do anything to promote this awful site. It’s disgusting,” Ryan said. “I watched this Web site get nasty, very sexist, very racist and homophobic and other things.”

Apparently, Eric was doing more than “watching.”

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Rosanne Barr show endangers Hawaii Tourism, Mac Nut Industry

The ex-sitcom despot makes a lot of noise in her new Lifetime "docu-series" about how she's left Hollywood behind for a simpler life as a macadamia farmer in Hawaii: "I used to star on a show called Roseanne... After a while, I started thinking it was all bullsh-- and that I was addicted to bullsh--." Well, she's still hooked, because this show is full of it - and not just the "dump" a wild pig takes on her porch in the excruciating premiere.

(It gets worse after that…)

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1996: America Defends Marriage against Broken Trust Hawaii Supreme Court

''Given your stated and longstanding opposition to gay marriage, we believe there would not be a substantive basis for you not to sign the proposed legislation if it were to be adopted by Congress,'' White House counsel Jack Quinn, senior advisor to the president George Stephanopoulos and White House gay and lesbian liaison Marsha Scott wrote to President Bill Clinton on May 10, 1996 — three days after Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) introduced the Defense of Marriage Act in Congress.

''It is therefore our recommendation that you should sign this legislation if it is enacted,'' the trio continued….

Referring to the ongoing Hawaii case brought by several same-sex couples challenging the state's refusal to grant them marriage licenses, Canady opened the May 15, 1996, hearing by saying, ''Should we let three judges in Hawaii decide to redefine marriage, not only for the people of Hawaii, but for the rest of the country as well?''

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