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Sunday, July 24, 2011
July 24, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:32 PM :: 9138 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Where have all the Tax Credit Advocates Gone?

Berg: Time is now to stop Waimanalo Gulch Extension

Vandalism at isle farms and ranches is about more than just property damage

In 2000, anti-biotech activists calling themselves "menehune" wiped out a test plant plot of corn at a seed research facility on Kauai. A day later, the group destroyed several test crops of papaya, pineapple and flowers at the Kauai Agricultural Resource Center, which is operated by the University of Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In May 2010, nearly 400 papaya trees were destroyed at a Mililani farm. A month later, more than 8,500 trees in Kapoho were chopped down, resulting in more than $100,000 in losses for farmer Laureto Julian. In all of the papaya destruction incidents, the fruit — much of it ready for harvest — was left behind.

Ranchers across the state continue to struggle with illegal poaching. Within the last 18 months, milking goats and cows have been stolen or slaughtered by intruders at dairy farms on Maui, Kauai and Hawaii island.

Although we cannot assume that these acts of violence were committed by the same group or individuals, or that the perpetrators were activists, it appears likely that many of them were fueled by the same extreme desire: to advance their narrow beliefs and encroach on the free will of those with whom they disagree.

The cases of papaya crop vandalism were violent, premeditated attacks — much more than just property damage. Regardless of their motive, we should not tolerate this kind of extreme behavior, which could grow more destructive and extend to other segments of agriculture or science if left unchecked.

Our law enforcement needs to conduct a deeper investigation into the incidents, and we want stricter penalties on attacks that resemble eco-or agricultural terrorism.

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Abercrombie to offer up as many empty platitudes as it takes pretend to improve education

Next week, when the first bells ring in schools across our islands, the movement to improve education in Hawaii will shift to a higher gear. (Catch phrase #1)

This school year we are raising Hawaii's children to the top of our list of priorities. (Catch phrase #2)  As the school year progresses, you will learn of many examples of excellence in leadership, in teaching, in community involvement and in student achievement. (Several catch phrases rolled into one sentence)  Too often, we overlook the positive things happening in our public schools right now. (Catch phrase #4)

But as we celebrate successes, we must also freely admit and openly address the difficult challenges that have frustrated us for too long — finger pointing, antiquated systems, norms that go unchallenged, low expectations and conflicts over the needs of the adults that distract us from the needs of children….(Several catch phrases rolled into one sentence)

  • We will raise graduation standards (Because more failure brings “More Federal Funds”)
  • We will fix our school buildings (Contracts for the cronies.)
  • We will make our schools safe (Just wait ‘til gay activists get their hands on the anti-bullying programs.)
  • We will implement unique strategies and partnerships in our Zones of School Innovation (And those strategies would be….?)
  • We will cultivate effective teaching through mentoring programs, reduced administrative burdens and implementation of an effective teacher evaluation system (Even though there is not a word about this in he HSTA contract we just imposed.)

We can take pride in our schools and put our hearts and souls into our kids. Empty criticism platitudes does do nothing to help our schools and our children. Let's challenge ourselves to approach this year united by enthusiasm, encouragement and constructive action.  (And pat ourselves on the back for not auditing the DoE.  Our contractor buddies are very pleased.)

Ignore This: Hawaii DoE: Cost of waste, fraud, and corruption between $191M and $431M per year

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Teacher Evaluation “Expert” Bought and Paid for By Unions

Goe has served as a visiting scholar to the NEA and advisor on their teacher evaluation work, advises the AFT as a member of their expert panel on teacher evaluation, and serves as a consultant to the AFTs Innovation Grant sites in New York and Rhode Island as they design innovative, comprehensive teacher evaluation systems.  (And yes, she is part of the effort to coopt and neuter any evaluation program.)

HTA: More Questions than Answers

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12 Big Isle public school kitchens have Health Violations

12 schools of the 43 permitted by the state Department of Health showed any violations in their most recent inspections, according to a West Hawaii Today analysis of inspection reports obtained under the state open records law.

Primary problems were cockroaches, dirty utensils, dented cans and improper cooking, cooling and storage temperatures.

The Health Department inspects school cafeterias and food preparation and service areas twice yearly and commercial eating establishments less often

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20,000 Hawaiian Electric Investors are raking in the bucks

What electric stocks might give you the biggest charge for your portfolio? One area that investors should look at are the companies that are receiving rate increases, such as the 2.2 percent rate hike for Hawaiian Electric (HE)….

One of the nice features about Hawaiian Electric is that about 20,000 Hawaii residents are shareholders of the company. This can make it a little easier for the company to get rate increases as the shareholding residents may not like their electric rates going up but they understand that the company needs to make money and keep paying out those high dividends. The company is also involved in developing an electric vehicle industry in the state.

Hawaiian Electric trades at 14 times forward earnings and sports a generous yield of 5%. Dividend payouts of $115 million are easily covered by the operating cash flow of $317 million. Earnings for the latest quarter were up 4.9% on a 14.8% increase in revenues.

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HECO Blocking Rooftop Solar

HECO, like many electric utilities in the United States, has set a 15 percent threshold for the amount of solar power that can be put on a single circuit during peak load before flags are raised regarding grid stability. In Hawaii, which has the highest per capita amount of solar energy linked to the power grid, that threshold is being reached far more frequently than in other areas.

High levels of customer-generated solar power on the grid can be problematic for utilities because the generation systems are outside their control, and the source of the energy — the sun — fluctuates with cloud cover. Those factors can potentially upset the balance between electricity production and consumption that is needed to keep the grid operating smoothly.

Once the 15 percent level is reached on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii island, Molokai and Lanai, customers of HECO and its subsidiary utilities can be required to conduct an expensive study before installing solar panels.

The PUC, along with HECO and solar industry representatives, is working on changes to Rule 14H that could lessen the impact of the "overly conservative" 15 percent threshold, said Brad Alpert, president of the Hawaii PV Coalition.

MAP: http://media.staradvertiser.com/images/20110724_biz_hecolarge.jpg

(Not mentioned.  HECO needs to keep this 15% space on the grid open for power from big bucks big wind projects.)

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Star-Adv endorses Higher Water Bills

Honolulu's Board of Water Supply went 11 years without raising fees, and the island's aging pipeline suffered the consequences. A proposal before the board to increase fees by 9.65 percent in each of the next five years will be hard on residents during a struggling economy, but delays of needed maintenance would make matters exponentially worse in the long term. The public can weigh in on the proposal at an Aug. 22 hearing — but regardless of the rate-increase outcome, all water users should adopt water conservation habits to lessen the economic hardship.

Water fees remained the same from the 1996 through 2006 fiscal years, at which point the city auditor chastised the board for awarding lucrative bonuses to top executives and putting pipeline maintenance behind the priority of "re-engineering projects" because of "one manager's vision."

Clifford Lum, then the board's chief engineer, defended the past policy, but Dean Nakano, the board's present acting manager, politely disagrees.

A public hearing on the proposed water rates will be at 2 p.m. Aug. 22 in the Board of Water Supply's board room at 630 S. Beretania St.

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“The Rent is too Crazy”: 12,000 come out for Free Food, Medical Services at Convoy of Hope

They were among an estimated 12,000 to 13,000 Oahu residents treated to free food, rides, games and even haircuts and portrait photos at the gathering, which was put on by a group of Christian-based churches, with significant contributions by private businesses and social-service agencies.

Event organizers were expecting 7,000 needy people, but they had to start turning people away by about noon, only two hours after the scheduled start.

The gathering actually began an hour earlier than scheduled, said event media coordinator Bully Eastman, who noted that some guests formed a line the night before to ensure they didn't miss out.

(Please thank the Sierra Club for shutting down affordable housing developments and driving up the rent.)

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State may sell buildings, then pay developers rent

Concerns have been raised that the law, which originated as House Bill 1505, could end up making it more expensive in the long range to own and maintain buildings, given that developers will need to earn a return on their investment through charging the state rent.

"We have concerns on whether it is more cost effective for a private investor to invest the capital needed to renovate the state facility instead of the state using capital improvement funds to renovate the facility," Kalbert Young, director of the state Department of Budget and Finance, said in written testimony.

Young said selling public buildings and leasing them back has been done in other states, and that there could be long-term financial benefits depending on the terms negotiated and other factors.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie submitted a notice of intent to veto the bill, but instead signed it into law recently.

The law applies only to property owned by DAGS, which excludes schools, parks, harbors, airports and other facilities. DAGS provides building repair, maintenance and alteration services for 164 facilities, including office buildings, libraries and health centers. Aloha Stadium is another property owned by DAGS.

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Star-Advertiser Charging State 27 Percent More For Ads

the state is now paying 27 percent more for newspaper ads as of July 1, compared to the year before.

Many state departments and agencies are required by law to buy ads in a daily newspaper to give public notice about meetings, jobs, contracts and other business.

With only one daily newspaper on Oahu, there's no competition for those ad rates.

As a result, the state's ad contract with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser went up 27 percent in July and will increase almost ten percent more July 1, 2012.

That hikes the state's newspaper ad bills to about $1.1 million over the next year.

SA: Star-Advertiser to charge $19.95/mo for premium online content

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Akaka: Balanced budget is Death

“Congress must raise the debt ceiling to fulfill our commitments and take meaningful steps to reduce our deficits and debt.”

Yep.  Akaka really did say that more debt is the path to less debt. 

Inouye added that we must continue mortgaging our country to China and Saudi Arabia because without the support of those countries “…there would be 13 million fewer meals served to seniors….”

(Thus tacitly acknowledging that Inouye’s cronies are getting old, too.)

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Honouliuli seeks federal park recognition

A National Park Service team is evaluating recommendations on how best to preserve the former site of the Honouliuli internment camp.

In February, the team initiated a special resource study of 13 confinement sites across the state, including Honouliuli, described as the largest.

Project manager Suzanne Bott said a draft report is being compiled based on recommendations from a series of public meetings. A final report will be sent to Congress, which will make the decision on whether to add Honouliuli to the National Park Service system….

SA: Students and scientists work to uncover the Honouliuli internment camp (The Italians and Germans confined at the camp are not mentioned until paragraph 9.  That is because it is difficult to use this to shame-whip Americans if some white people were also confined there based on THEIR ethnicity.  The politically correct elite need these camps as a monument to their superiority.)

TOTALLY RELATED:  East-West Center hammered for “sustained, biased and politically-motivated attack on World War II veterans”

TOTALLY RELATED: UH Manoa Anti-Americans place E-W Center funding at risk

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More Hawaii Waters to be closed to Fishing

The team suggested that the fishery be required to use circle hooks instead of the Japanese-style tuna hooks — shaped more like the letter "J" — many in the fleet had been using. The task force and the agency both believe false killer whales would be less likely to get caught on the circle hooks, which are weaker than the Japanese-style hooks. They also believe false killer whales that do get caught will have an easier time wiggling free of the circle hooks.

Many longline fishermen have already started using these circle hooks, as they've been following some of the task force's recommendations even before the federal government has formally adopted them.  (So this is just an excuse to do what comes next…)

Another proposed rule would close an area south of the main Hawaiian Islands to the longline fishery once a given number of false killer whales have been killed or injured in a given year. The next year, the agency would lower the allowable number of serious interactions in the zone.

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Fontaine: Cyberwars at full throttle in Hawaii

Internet service providers also need to take on greater responsibility to notify customers when their systems are hacked or personal data is disclosed. Given the global reach of the Internet, it is important for ISPs located outside of Hawaii to respond promptly to warrants, subpoenas, wiretap requests and other law enforcement search tools that are used to track down computer crimes. We need legislation to make sure this is the case.

As a legislator and a former police captain, I pledge to work with my colleagues to strengthen Hawaii statutes that will help law enforcement officials catch and prosecute these types of crimes. Among the suggestions we received at the briefing were recommendations that companies be required to retain logs of computer transactions for a set period of time to facilitate law enforcement investigations.

I look forward to working with my colleagues in the state Legislature to improve Hawaii's laws along these lines and to make it easier for our police and prosecutors to find these digital thieves guilty. I want to hear from anyone who has been a victim or has recommendations to better protect all of us who live in Hawaii. Send email to repfontaine@capitol.hawaii.gov.

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No more excuses: Kaua‘i needs a drug treatment center

We hope the county picks up the pace with the discussion and decision-making. Naturally, we recognize the importance of having a dialog with residents on a proposed project of this nature.

But considering the facility would not be operational for at least four or five years from the time the siting is determined, we need to be more expeditious in the process.

The time for taking action was yesterday. No more excuses can be borne from either Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s administration or the NIMBY crowd. Let’s make this a reality now. Kaua‘i needs a youth drug treatment center.

Speaking of yesterday…Office of Hawaiian Affairs Blocks Kauai Drug Treatment Facility

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