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Wednesday, January 04, 2012
January 4, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:41 PM :: 9733 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Iowa: Romney Beats Santorum by Eight Votes

Carpenter, Case: Democrats Should Host Senate Forums Excluding Lingle

Tom Berg Announces Campaign for Reelection

OHA Ceded lands Settlement Designed to Give Trustees a Better View

CB: The view from Clyde Namuo's fifth floor office at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is not a terribly good one: mostly bulky warehouses and other bland buildings in Kakaako.

Only a few blocks makai from OHA's offices, however, are about 25 acres of state land that the Abercrombie administration says is worth $200 million — prime, ocean-front property with a sweeping views in most directions.

Though the Kakaako parcels would still be administered by the state's Hawaii Community Development Authority, (which has failed to develop Kakaako for decades) OHA would benefit from any revenue that comes from the land and have a stake in future development…. (so the only ‘sure’ benefit is that OHA gets to move to a HQ with a view. The rest depends on the same HCDA which has failed….)

If the Hawaii Legislature next year approves a proposal crafted this fall by the governor and OHA, the agency would own that land and possibly relocate its headquarters there. It would also settle a $200 million tab owed by the state to OHA for ceded-land revenues….

Current Chair Colette Machado, who was first elected a trustee in 1996, remembers being told early in her tenure by the then-chair that she had until 4 p.m. to move out of her office into a smaller one. The chair wanted the bigger room.

"We knew how it felt to go into Siberia when we had disagreements with the current chair," said Machado, who added, "It was tumultuous politics, tit for tat, blocking all your projects."

read … A $200M View

Shapiro: Public confidence in rail suffers yet another blow

The latest example is the news that Carrie Okinaga, chairwoman of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, has landed a job as an attorney for First Hawaiian Bank.

One of Okinaga's main connections to First Hawaiian Bank is its chairman, Don Horner, who is her fellow board member on the city transit authority and a major power there as head of the finance committee….

It becomes downright alarming when the two most powerful chairmanships on the HART board are controlled by one bank, especially when it's a bank with substantial financial interests in the rail project.

First Hawaiian Bank is a major landowner along the rail route and likely will get considerable lending business from rail-related development.

According to a report by blogger Ian Lind, First Hawaiian Bank's French parent company, PNB Paribas, has business ties to the Italian company that was awarded the $1.4 billion contract to build, operate and maintain the rail cars for the Honolulu system -- the biggest single contract in city history.

Horner was the driving force on the HART board behind staying the course with Ansaldo Honolulu Joint Venture despite financial problems surrounding its parent company Finmeccanica Group and questions about its performance on rail car contracts in other cities.

These incestuous ties too often seen in the Oahu rail project erode public confidence that the most expensive public works job in Hawaii's history will be carried out in an honest and cost-conscious manner with the public interest foremost in mind.

ILind: More on the rail transit’s power elite

NYT: After 40-Year Battle, Train May Roll for Oahu

read … Bank Controls HART

Poll: Only 35% of Hawaii Voters Think Delegation Represents Constituents

CB: half of the state's registered voters say donors have the most influence over the choices and decisions of our congressional delegation.

Civil Beat's automated telephone poll of 1,269 registered voters on Dec. 4 and 5 found that just 35 percent said the state's members of Congress make more choices and decisions in the interest of their constituents. Fifty-two percent said they make more choices in the interests of big campaign donors. Thirteen percent were not sure. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent….

However in a state dominated by Democrats, they were the only group of voters in which a plurality said voters had the most influence, 48 percent to 40 percent for donors. When it came to the all-important Independents, 64 percent said donors have more influence, and just 28 percent said voters. Their view was much closer to those who identified as Republicans. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans said donors had the most influence over the decisions of Hawaii's members of Congress, with just 18 percent saying voters.

read … Pay to Play, Everybody Knows

Berg Hires Patty Teruya

KITV: Leeward Oahu councilman Tom Berg has hired a woman who just quit another city job because of an ethics investigation against her.

But Berg said he's still evaluating whether to keep Patty Teruya on the city payroll.

On Friday, the city ethics commission announced that city special events coordinator Teruya had resigned after an ethics investigation found she spent much of her city work time over two months on non-city activity, including campaigning for city council, buying items on line and searching for a job for her boyfriend. That city job paid her about $60,000 a year, according to city officials.

In the days before that announcement was made, Berg had council staff process the paperwork to hire Teruya as a legislative aide on his council staff, paying her a $55,000 salary as of Jan. 1.

"I'm getting phone calls saying 'pick her up,' as if she was a draft choice. Because there are those that do see a difference between findings by the ethics commission and actually what people know Patty and how she served the district," Berg said.

Related: Mufi Hannemann and Ernie Martin Operative: Patty Teruya Forced out by Ethics Investigation

Read … Draft Choice

Could Hawaii's 2nd District Go From Most Liberal to Most Conservative?

CB: Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann stands out as the most socially conservative Democrat in the race for Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District, according to questionnaires that he and four other candidates filled out for Civil Beat.

He's also the front-runner to replace Mazie Hirono, arguably Hawaii's most liberal congressional delegate. Hirono has represented the district since 2007 but is vacating her post to run for U.S. Senate….

CB: Hannemann: Obama Shares My Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage

read … Mufi: Socially conservative, fiscally liberal

Hawaii: 13 Gay Civil Unions, 69 more Authorized

SA: Hawaii recognized 13 same-sex couples as having legal civil unions as of Tuesday, and an additional 69 couples have applied for civil union licenses to have similar ceremonies performed within 30 days, the state Health Department said.

Reality: Broken Trust Gang finally Imposes Gay Unions on Hawaii

read … Numerology

SA: After HMC Debacle, Tripler Pulls Our Fat From Fire

SA: The relationship between military institutions and the civilian populations on Oahu has always been a delicate one. Both partners are interdependent but sometimes interests don’t align perfectly. It can be a difficult balance.

This week, however, the dividends of maintaining that relationship were evident in the welcome news that came from Tripler Army Medical Center. Tripler officials have stepped up to lend a crucial assist to the military’s host community by agreeing to make the hospital complex a trauma center for the treatment of nonmilitary residents on Oahu.

Without a doubt, this announcement came as a relief to executives of Queen’s Medical Center, which now is the only civilian trauma center on the island.

The context of this move, of course, is the recent closure of Oahu’s two Hawaii Medical Center hospitals. The loss of HMC-West in particular is worrisome because of the growing communities in and around Kapolei left without a nearby trauma center.

Officials hope Tripler can finish preparations to join the state’s trauma system within a year, even as soon as six months from now. State and Army officials must work in concert to ensure the hospital upgrade can come online as soon as possible.

read … Tripler

Expansion of Geothermal plant to shave power cost on Big Isle

SA: An expansion of the state's only geothermal plant will save Hawaii island residential utility customers about 70 cents a month on their electricity bills under an agreement approved by state regulators.

The savings are projected to increase over time, reaching $1.89 a month by 2020 due to the favorable pricing of geothermal energy compared with energy that would have otherwise been produced with oil….

The old agreement was priced on an "avoided cost" basis, meaning HELCO paid Puna Geothermal a rate that was equivalent to what the utility would pay for electricity produced with diesel.

Under the revised agreement HELCO will continue to pay avoided cost for the first 25 megawatts of energy and lower rates for amounts from 25 to 38 megawatts. The reduced rates range from 6 cents a kilowatt-hour to 11.8 cents a kilowatt-hour depending on a variety of circumstances.

(Amazing. Alternative energy which actually saves ratepayers money. What a concept.)

read … Lower Prices

Opponents of wind projects opt to voice concerns through radio spots

SA: Friends of Lanai and I Aloha Molokai said Tuesday they will air a month long series of 60-second spots in January on KPOI 105.9 FM and KUMU 94.7 FM, sister stations owned by Ohana Broadcast Co. LLC.

read … Radio vs Wind

Hoku Gets Another Week of Free Electricity, Idaho Power Steamed

AP: …on Tuesday, Idaho Public Utilities Commissioners said they set a schedule to hear out the dispute, with arguments set for meetings next Tuesday or Wednesday….

Idaho Power said allowing Hoku to continue to receive electricity without paying its bills puts the utility at risk of losing millions in the deal. +

read … Hoku Milks Idaho For Millions

Legislature to Bring Back Non-Judicial Foreclosures

SA: "If the Legislature intended to end all nonjudicial foreclosures, this has been accomplished," the bankers association said in a statement attached to the report. "If the Legislature, however, recognizes that there is a place for nonjudicial foreclosures in certain situations, (the harsh penalty provision) must be repealed."

But 13 of the 18 task force members agreed to a compromise that specifies about 20 violations that constitute unfair or deceptive acts that would be subject to invalidation of a foreclosure sale.

George Zweibel, a Hawaii island attorney representing borrowers, said the recommendation represents a fair and reasonable balance between lenders' concerns and the need to protect borrowers.

Jeff Gilbreath, executive director of Hawaiian Community Assets, a housing counseling organization, said the compromise will allow for effective implementation of nonjudicial foreclosures in Hawaii.

The task force issued its recommendations in a report recently submitted to the 2012 Legislature.

read … Managing the Market on Behalf of Large Landowners

GMOs: Honolulu Council is Last Bulwark Against Luddites

BIW: In the face of industry lobbying, the Honolulu council voted to kill the resolution. That also effectively killed a similar resolution, sponsored by Hawai’i County Councilor Angel Pilago, that was passed by this island’s council. Both resolutions would have authorized the Hawaii State Association of Counties to lobby for a GMO labeling bill in the state legislature.

“We need to have unanimous consent of all the county councils in order to put that forward,” explained Waimea councilor Pete Hoffmann, another supporter of the bill. Hoffmann said he was considering offering another resolution, similar to one passed by Maui, which would support a statewide bill requiring the labeling of genetically modified “whole foods.”

Any bill to label GM foods at the county or state level faces legitimate economic and constitutional arguments. The U. S. Constitution places “interstate commerce,” including any foods that are marketed across state lines, in the federal bailiwick, (which is why some brands of locally-produced hot dogs are still bright red, even though red dye in hot dogs was banned in interstate commerce decades ago), so any GM labeling bill would have to be limited to foods produced and consumed in-state.

read … Luddites Crying

Police: Fireworks Citations Drop 87%

KHON: According to HPD, the department received 854 calls of fireworks complaints during the New Year's holiday weekend, a 40 percent decrease from the 1,408 calls received in 2010 and less than half of the 1,840 calls received in 2009.

Officers issued 27 citations for fireworks violations this year compared to 309 last year. No arrests were made, while three people were arrested last year.

Police Chief Louis Kealoha said in a statement: "We were hoping for voluntary compliance, and the majority of the public obeyed the law. You could see and hear the difference all over Oahu. We are definitely moving in the right direction, although there is still work to be done."

"Why have something we can't enforce," asked city councilwoman Ann Kobayashi.

read … Snobs Lose

Charter Schools Push Back Against Legislative Critics

Among the many successes we have seen:

  • » As the state auditor noted in her report, Kamaile Academy was the only charter school included in the audit that has negotiated a supplemental agreement with the Hawaii State Teachers Association to allow innovative models for teacher growth and evaluation. In fact, Kamaile is the first public school in Hawaii to offer an Expanded Learning Time model that fosters increased teacher collaboration time and attention to student performance data.
  • » Kualapu‘u School's Expanded Learning Time model has gained nationwide recognition and the data in its implementation year already shows increased teacher and community satisfaction with the improvements to teaching and learning.
  • » Waimea Middle School has been lauded for innovative community partnerships, such as the Mala‘ai Garden, which teaches the children important lessons beyond the core curriculum such as sustainability and Hawaiian culture.

read … Charter schools make great strides in student achievement

Developers Fail in Push to Loosen Maui’s ‘Show-Me-The-Water’ Rules

MN: Last month a bid to sunset the "Show Me the Water" ordinance failed, and Tuesday an attempt to amend it stalled following a visit by Mayor Alan Arakawa to the County Council Water Resources Committee.

The proposed amendments would have had the effect of allowing developers to subdivide and proceed with preliminary work, even if meters were not yet available. As soon as meters did become available, their "shovel ready" projects would be ready for work.

Testifying in support of the amendments, Everett Dowling said preliminary work by such professionals as engineers, archaeologists and designers cannot be begun now. "Typically, this amounts to 10 percent of the cost of a project," he said.

read … Stagnant Water

Yagong pushes for Hawaii County solid waste privatization

WHT: Council Chairman Dominic Yagong has turned up the heat on Mayor Billy Kenoi's plans to operate a Hilo garbage sort station, accusing Kenoi of kowtowing to public-sector unions rather than looking out for the taxpayers' best interest.

"It is commonly known and obvious that you want to protect and increase county union jobs by keeping this facility under county control," Yagong said in a letter Tuesday to Kenoi. "Growing government does not help our county employees. Instead, it puts current employee jobs in jeopardy because our revenue stream cannot sustain a continuing growing labor force."

Kenoi called Yagong's letter a "desperation tactic based on inaccuracies, falsehoods and misstatements." (That’s politca-speak for “He’s got me dead to rights.”) He lashed out at the councilman for sharing the letter with the media, and said all council members are welcome to call or visit to discuss issues with him.

read …. Public Waste

No federal funding for TMT, official says

HTH: No federal money will be available for the Thirty Meter Telescope or its main competitor in this decade, the head of the astronomy division at the National Science Foundation told an influential science blog.

Those remarks, and a solicitation posted by the NSF last week, are the clearest sign yet that the TMT will have to rely on its partner agencies and private sources for its construction on the northern plateau of Mauna Kea.

Michael Bolte, an astronomer and member of the TMT board of directors, said this has no effect on the telescope's planned timeline.

"We've been planning carefully, and we have a plan to go forward, and only have NSF money coming late" following construction, Bolte said.

read… Price of Delay

 

 

DoE Owes Legislature Dozens of Reports Mandated in 2011

SYNOPSIS OF 2012 LEGISLATIVE REPORTS

A. Reports on the bills and resolutions passed in the 2011 Regular Session, Hawaii State Legislature

B. Required Annual Reports

CB: Reporting to the Legislature

read … DoE Report List

Stopping Oahu School Bus Service Would Save Millions

CB: It would save the Department of Education about $15 million per year on its estimated $75 million student transportation budget.

The district's recommendation was a reluctant one, it said in a long-awaited report to state legislators on Hawaii's options for curbing skyrocketing school bus costs.

read … More DoE Waste

HECO Proposes On Bill Financing for Solar Water Heaters

SA: Under the proposed Simply Solar program qualified residential customers on Oahu, Hawaii island and in Maui County would pay back HECO with the savings resulting from their reduced power bills.

read … On Bill Financing

Attorney Files $10B Harassment Suit against Tripler over “Reverse Oreo”

"An officer even told an African-American employee who was being harassed, ‘I wouldn't have hired you over the phone if I'd known you were black’,” Bothwell said.

Bothwell accuses Tripler and the U.S. Army of failing to conduct any serious investigation of the complaints.

"Even when the racism is that explicit and even when the epithets used like Oreo cookie, snake, reverse Oreo cookie, don't wear your hair like that, only black ladies wear their hair like that," Bothwell said….

Four of the 10 employees remain in Hawaii, according to the lawsuit. Bothwell said only one is still employed at Tripler.

read … $10B Oreo

University of Hawaii Releases Norm Chow's Head Football Coaching Contract; Won't Disclose His Salary

HR: Citing privacy interests, the University of Hawaii won’t disclose the salary of new head football coach Norm Chow, other than to say that it’s somewhere between $392,142 and $935,544 per year.

The university reversed fields in refusing to specify Chow’s salary, which is believed to be between $500,000 and $600,000 annually. The institution had previously disclosed the $1.1 million compensation of former head coach Greg McMackin and in 2003 was forced to release a copy of then-head coach June Jones’ $800,000-per year contract….

The disclosure of Jones’ contract came after the state Office of Information Practices issued an opinion which overrode the University’s contention that release of the document would violate the coach’s privacy rights….

Oddly, the University today cited that 2003 OIP ruling as partial justification for its decision to withhold the precise amount of Chow’s salary….

(Imagine that, MRC Greenwood and fat executive salaries being kept secret. Who’d have guessed?)

read … Secret Salary

Proposal for 25% of UH Faculty to be Native Hawaiian

CB:A 19-member task force for Native Hawaiian advancement at the University of Hawaii at Manoa has shared a draft of its first report, which outlines goals and strategies for improving opportunities and achievement for Native Hawaiians….

Goals include creating a permanent Vice Chancellor for Native Hawaiian Affairs position, and bringing the number of Native Hawaiians on the faculty and staff up to 25 percent (which is on par with the statewide Native Hawaiian population, the report states).

The task force is encouraging feedback via an online survey….

read … Affirmative Action

Pacific Resource Partnership seeks to intervene in Honolulu rail lawsuit

PBN: The organization, a consortium of the Hawaii Carpenters Union and unionized contractors, said in a statement that the $5.1 billion project was approved by voters in 2008 and 2010 and it is important for creating jobs at a time when unemployment is high.

PRP was joined in its motion for intervention by the Faith Action for Community Equity, a faith-based grassroots organization, and Kapolei resident Melvin Uesato….

“What intervention does it allows us to participate in the process including everything from cross examination of witnesses to offering testimony.” (In other words, run up the legal bill Stop Rail must pay.)

read … More Lawyers, More Cost

“A Night of Hope” Friday, February 3 at Blaisdell Arena

Tens of thousands fill arenas and stadiums across America to hear a message of hope from Joel and Victoria Osteen. Now, the pastors of the largest church in America are coming to Honolulu, HI to hold “A Night of Hope” worship event at Blaisdell Arena Friday, February 3 – matinee at 1:00 pm and 7:30 pm.

read … Osteen

Hunt Development Joins Missouri Memorial Assn

AP: A retired Navy captain and real estate executive has joined the USS Missouri Memorial Association's board of directors.

Steve Colon is president of the Hawaii division of Hunt Development Group LLC, a company that has built housing for military families at the Kaneohe Bay Marine base and other installations.

read … Hunt Development

Enviros Seize Control of Corporations from Stockholders, Plan to Run them into Ground

A dozen companies committed to maximizing social good while turning a profit have filed papers with the state to become California's first "benefit corporations."

…it's important from a legal standpoint because it helps shield benefit corporations from lawsuits brought by shareholders who say that company do-gooding has diluted the value of their stock. (in other words, the management can steal the company from the owners.)

California becomes the seventh state to adopt this relatively new corporate structure. Until now, California corporate law mandated that shareholders' interests trump those of all other parties. Entrepreneurs who wanted to incorporate green initiatives or social causes into their businesses were often forced to become nonprofits, limiting their ability to raise venture capital.

Benefit corporations offer for-profit companies a way to do well and do right, said Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), the author of AB361, the legislation that created the new type of business….

Vermont and Maryland approved similar laws in 2010, followed by New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Hawaii in 2011. Nationwide, as many as 100 companies have become benefit corporations, most of them privately held, supporters of the Huffman bill said.

read … Stolen Property

Obama Admin Retaliates Against Immigration Agents Who Deny Visas

Higher-ups within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are pressuring rank-and-file officers to rubber-stamp immigrants’ visa applications, sometimes against the officers’ will, according to a Homeland Security report and internal documents exclusively obtained by The Daily.

A 40-page report, drafted by the Office of Inspector General in September but not publicly released, details the immense pressure immigration service officers are under to approve visa applications quickly, sometimes while overlooking concerns about fraud, eligibility or security.

One-quarter of the 254 officers surveyed said they have been pressured to approve questionable cases, sometimes “against their will.”

The report does not call out any particular officials and indicates that the agency has had a problem with valuing quantity over quality since at least the 1980s.

But high-ranking USCIS officials said the pressure has heightened after the Obama administration appointed Alejandro Mayorkas as director in August 2009 during an effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform, bringing with him a mantra of “get to yes.”

read … We need more voters


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