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Friday, January 13, 2012
January 13, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:14 PM :: 10941 Views :: Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

From Business Suits to Combat Boots

Caldwell: Rail is about "redesigning city around transit stations"

Political activities: What every Marine and DOD civilian should know

Rainbow papaya approved for Japan export

US Drops to 10th on Index of Economic Freedom

Teachers: Agreement is a Bum Deal, Lets Strike

The questions these items raise, for teachers and experts alike:

  • What is the teacher evaluation going to look like?
  • How exactly will the evaluations play into performance pay? Everyone who receives a “satisfactory” each year gets an automatic raise of the same amount?
  • How will performance pay work? This is typically among the most contentious issues between school districts and teachers.
  • Are the personal leave days still going to be taken out of sick leave? And will they be paid or unpaid?
  • What about the supplemental time off? Paid or unpaid? Is it just another name for the furloughed teacher planning days?

Okabe promised informational briefings that would be streamed live on the union's members-only site, but meanwhile, reactions to the synopsis have been mixed….

… most suspect the agreement is a bum deal for them — some because they think returning to circa-2009 salaries in 2013 is insulting and disrespectful, and others because they are worried that evaluations that rely on student testing data will be unfair measures of their success.

For that reason, many say they will vote against it — and several are urging a strike.

read … HSTA not even close to what is Required under RTTT

Borreca: Tax Hikes Again at top of Legislative Agenda

Borreca: If this year's economy is expected to get just slightly better, with perhaps a few more jobs and not as many threats of business closings, there are at least five big issues awaiting the ministrations of the 76 lawmakers.

Taxes top the list.

Just last year, the Democratic-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie pushed through a historic $600 million tax increase. Some were new taxes and some were temporarily abolished tax breaks. The Council on Revenues flatly said the projected new tax money isn't showing up. As it turns out, Hawaii businesses are not populated by people looking to give money to the tax collectors and they have found ways to avoid the tax increases.

At the same time, the state budget is just only sort of balanced and by fiscal 2014 we will be short $164 million, with the chasm between money collected and money spent growing deeper every year.

You know the drill: Cut services, stop hiring, stop spending and raise taxes -- or go to item No. 2: Bring in a casino….

#3 HMC #4 Tesoro…

…And finally, #5 there is the matter of the new public school teachers' contract. Abercrombie won a verbal agreement with the teachers union. If an agreement is good news, the implementation is mostly a question mark. The contract is reportedly for six years and includes some unspecified raise.

Neither Abercrombie nor the union are giving particulars, but the state's biggest union, the Hawaii Government Employees Association, has a clause in its contract saying if another public union gets a better deal, then the HGEA gets it, too.

Does the HGEA get a six-year contract with a pay raise? Can the state afford this? How?

HR: Hawaiian Airlines CEO: Taxes are out of Control

SA: State Auditor challenges waste and mismanagement in public agencies

read … At least 5 big issues await cash-strapped Legislature

Top Priority: Businesses faced with Another Massive Unemployment Tax Hike

SA: Wary of undermining economic recovery, state House lawmakers want to forestall a scheduled increase this year in the unemployment insurance tax rate that would force businesses to pay $180 to $650 more for every employee. (What a magnificent distraction.)

Lawmakers worry that the rate increase -- intended to help build a reserve to cover unemployment insurance claims -- may be too much of a burden on businesses and could prompt layoffs that might interrupt a fragile recovery.

"We feel like it will be helpful to maintain or to increase the economic momentum that we have, because it comes right off of businesses' bottom line," said state Rep. Karl Rhoads (D, Chinatown-Downtown), chairman of the House Labor and Public Employment Committee. (He then thanked the reporter for giving him this free campaign advertisement.)

The Legislature and Gov. Neil Abercrombie would have to take action by early March to shield businesses. Two years ago, lawmakers and Gov. Linda Lingle moved quickly to reduce the impact of a massive rate increase by about half. In 2007, before the recession hit, lawmakers and Lingle had considered the unemployment reserve so strong that they gave businesses significant tax relief that brought the average per-employee cost down to about $90.

Businesses now pay an average $667 per employee, according to labor analysts.

Jim Tollefson, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, said averting the rate increase is the chamber's top priority this session. (Meanwhile the Lege is going to pile on all kinds of other new taxes. UComp taxes are a distraction technique, that’s all.)

read … Top Priority

Reapportionment Commission to Consider How Much to Discriminate Against Military Personnel, African-Americans

The state Reapportionment Commission plans to meet Jan. 20 to begin re-drawing political boundaries, following a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling last week that invalidated new maps approved by the nine-member panel in October.

The high court, in a Jan. 4 ruling, agreed with Hawaii island plaintiffs who challenged the new maps, arguing that the commission included too many nonpermanent residents — military members, their dependents and out-of-state students — in the base population count used for setting the district lines.

Including those nonpermanent residents would maintain a greater population base on Oahu and negate population gains on Hawaii island that should result in that island gaining a fourth seat in the Senate. Oahu would lose one of its 18 Senate seats.

Plaintiffs contend that as many as 120,000 nonpermanent residents, those who live in Hawaii but claim legal residence elsewhere, should be removed from the base population number. The commission had excluded about 16,000 residents based on the ability to accurately determine their location and residency status.

read … Discrimination

Hirono Rejects Hawaii Agriculture—Backs Luddites’ Call for GMO Labeling

Courtney Bruch, a sustainability advocate, asked what Hirono's stance was on genetically modified food labels and sugar cane burning.

Hirono said she supports labeling. "But I'm not going to stand here and say I'm against all GMOs," she said….

Hirono was asked to respond to a comment by Republican front-runner and former Gov. Linda Lingle, who said this week that Hawaii would be better off with members from each party in the Senate.

"Our next senator needs to be focused on jobs and about what families are going through," she said. "That's my response."

GMOs have never been shown to have harmed a single human being anywhere ever:

read … Death to Hawaii Seed Industry

Mandatory Coverage, Limited Benefits: Legislature May Consider Commanding All Workers to Buy Long Term Care Insurance

SA: Regardless, the "silver tsunami" of aging baby boomers moving into the population needing care is going to hit, and Hawaii seems woefully unprepared. This was the driving force behind the assembly of the state's Long-Term Care Commission which, among other recommendations, advocated a new mandatory insurance program in a report aired at a public hearing last week.

It's a concept that's worthy of discussion. Making long-term care allowances part of payroll deductions, like Social Security, is one reasonable way to ensure that a growing elderly population makes some provision for itself rather than tapping the public purse of Medicaid.

The details of how this new benefit would be structured are not spelled out, the commission observing that additional financial and actuarial analyses are needed, and lawmakers would need to make the final call.

But it seems self-evident, even without this further data, that the premiums should be small and paid by the employees rather than being subsidized by employers. Businesses are bearing up under increasing burdens for the existing health care system as it is, and this is a difficult economic climate for adding anything to that.

What needs underscoring is that the benefit itself would be limited -- the panel recommends a daily benefit of $70 in cash, indexed to increase by 5 percent annually, and good for only a year's daily payouts. This doesn't sound like much, given the stratospheric charges for some care regimens, but it would help families with respite care or nursing assistance at home.

CB: Q-Mark Poll 77% Want Somebody to Help Finish Them Off

(And with assisted suicide, we can finish off these unnecessary people after their 1 year is up.)

read … Prepare now for 'silver wave'

ACLU files amicus brief on right of Atheists to videotape police

News Release: Provocation that just keeps on paying thanks to Gramscians in positions to deliver….

read … Atheists to Get Lots of Money

Invasive Species: Plastic Bag Tax to Create DLNR Make-Work Jobs

CB: DLNR estimates that it needs $11 million annually to protect Hawaii’s watersheds. Gov. Neil Abercrombie allocated $5 million in this year’s budget for the work. How to wrestle the rest out of the Leg this session is the pressing question, complicated by the need to have that amount allocated every year.

One option under consideration is funding it through a fee on plastic bags.

Propaganda Shows: State Focuses on Watershed Protection

read … DLNR: Watershed Protection Critical

Always Eager to Raise Electricity Prices, Omidyar’s Civil Beat Endorses HECO Propaganda Campaign

CB: “Hawaii's oil prices have remained at record highs primarily because the Japanese tsunami knocked out nuclear power plants and forced the country to use oil for electric generation. That situation is unlikely to change in the near future.” (Taken word-for-word from HECO propaganda.)

Two problems with this fact check: 1) Hawaii is closer to Latin American LSFO oil sources so we are not hostage to the Asian market. 2) Tesoro has the capacity to process high-sulfur oil
This Civil Beat "fact check" is just the latest Omidyar effort to jack up everybody's oil and electricity prices in Hawaii. Omidyar has been working on this effort ever since the first barrel tax push when Omidyar’s operatives sought to convince the legislature to impose a $100/barrel barrel tax on oil imports. We are not lab rats in his failed green energy experiment.

Reality:

Read … Some HECO Propaganda

Stand all the Way Downtown: Rail Jacks Up Capacity by Cutting Out Seats

PBN: The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation says the passenger compartments being built for it by Ansaldo Honolulu JV will be able to hold as many as 50 more riders than the similar systems that ride the rail in the San Francisco area, even though those units are 10 feet longer.

HART officials say that as many as 350 people will be able to fit into the Honolulu rail system’s two-car trains, which will measure 130-feet long and the standard 10-feet wide.

By comparison, the two-car trains used by the Los Angeles Metro light-rail system are equipped to carry as many as 436 people, according to officials there, but a two-car train on that system is 48 feet longer than a train on the Honolulu rail system….

“It’s a newer design and different seat configuration,” said HART spokesman Scott Ishikawa. “BART, they are older cars. These Honolulu cars are going to be much newer in design, and because of [fewer] seats there will be a lot more people standing.”

Each car in Honolulu will have 38 seats, some of which can flip up and retract when not in use, Jurgen Sumann, the chief engineer for the system in Honolulu, said in an email.

By comparison, BART cars have seating for 68 people and the cars cannot be reconfigured, said BART spokesman Jim Allison. The Los Angeles Metro light-rail cars have seats for 66 people, said Metro spokesman Rick Jager.

read … Sardines

Caldwell Looks for Same Supporters he Received in 2010

SA: Caldwell said he has lined up support from some of the same groups that supported him in the 2010 campaign, but he declined to identify them Thursday.

Caldwell and Carlisle each received a good share of union endorsements two years ago. The Hawaii Carpenters Union was among Carlisle's most prominent supporters, while Caldwell received backing from the city's police and firefighters unions as well as International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 142.

Caldwell said he hopes to court the same support (does not expect to take any of Carlisle’s unions) and separate himself from Carlisle despite both being attorneys who strongly support the rail transit project.

CB: Caldwell's First Promise: Soap In Bus Stop Bathroom

News Release: Caldwell: Rail is about "redesigning city around transit stations"

read … Captain Kirk

Iolani Palace Protesters Get Their Day In Court

CB: Weeks after invoking their Hawaiian sovereignty rights before a Honolulu judge, the 23 demonstrators arrested at Iolani Palace in November showed up to stand trial in Honolulu District Court.

Those arrested, members of the self-proclaimed Aupuni O Ko Hawaii Pae Aina/Hawaiian Kingdom Government, are charged with second-degree criminal trespassing for refusing to leave palace grounds after hours on Nov. 7. The defendants had argued at their arraignments that they were not U.S. citizens, but "living sovereigns" of the kingdom of Hawaii.

Although they believe they are under the jurisdiction of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the defendants appeared in court because they felt it's important to defend their actions and prove they did nothing wrong, says Mahealani Kahanaoi.

She prefers to be called Her Royal Majesty Mahealani and says she is the elected "head of state" for the group. She was one of those arrested.

The six who stood trial Thursday were:

  • Solomon Hoopai Jr.
  • Charlotte Kahalewai
  • Dayne Kahau
  • Keline Kahau
  • Lambert Smith
  • Duane Waiolama

Missing Details:

read … Iolani

'Wildlife overload' on Midway shows the results of restoration

SA: "We can't go back to the way things were, but we can make things better than they are," Earle said. (Define ‘better’.)

The purpose of the trip, according to Earle, was to observe the positive efforts to restore and protect the natural systems on Midway and incorporate them into global communications regarding preserving the planet.

Although Earle and Wyland were visiting the island for the first time, Middleton, the photographer, was a return visitor. She described Midway as a microcosm of what can happen worldwide.

"This is a place we could learn from," she said. "The only reason it is intact as much as it is, is because we humans have been protecting it." (Define ‘intact’.)

Reality: Monk Seals Dying in NW Hawaiian Isles Because of Fishing Ban

read … 'Wildlife overload'

Legislation to fight ID theft could cost businesses millions

PBN: Bills require employee training, but their sponsors doubt they will pass….

In 2006, Gov. Linda Lingle signed into law the first bills designed to provide increased ID theft protection to Hawaii residents. Given the recent security breaches at the University of Hawaii lawmakers want to go further by requiring training for employees and threats of litigation for companies that don’t comply. (Throw a bone to the trial lawyers)

Even so, the sponsors of two bills held over from the last legislative session are not confident that they will pass this upcoming session. And they’re not sure the mandatory training could be enforced if the legislation does become law. One of the sponsors, state Rep. Angus McKelvey, D-Lahaina-Kihei, said differences in the House and Senate over the contents of two bills could make them unlikely to pass.

The bills in question are House Bill 1220 and House Bill 678. Rep. Mark Takai, D-Pearl City-Waimalu, introduced HB 1220 after he became a potential victim of identity theft twice — during the breach at UH and as a preventative medical officer in the Hawaii Army National Guard.

read … ID Theft

Journalists group seeks applicants for internships

The application deadline is Feb. 29. An online form and more information are at www.hawaiispj.org.

Organizations offering the internships are the Star-Advertiser, Pacific Business News, Hawaii Business magazine, Honolulu magazine, Pacific Edge magazine, Trade Publishing (trade publications), Honolulu Civil Beat (online news), Alexander & Baldwin (corporate public relations), Hawaii News Now, KHON-TV and KITV.

Internships are for 10 weeks at 40 hours per week, with a $3,600 salary, except for KHON and KITV, whose internships are for eight weeks at 27 hours per week, with a $2,106 salary.

Preference is given to applicants who are Hawaii residents enrolled in a college or university and who went to high school in Hawaii….

For more information, contact Craig DeSilva at 282-1038 or at cdesilva@hotmail.com.

read … Internships

LPGA scouts Oahu for second tour stop

PBN: “Hawaii is a terrific golf community, and a terrific place to have the tournament,” Podany said. “We have a history there, and have a long record of success, which goes without saying.”

That long record of success ended back in 2009 at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay, which opened the LPGA season that year.

But golf experts and analysts say with the LPGA back in the swing of things in Hawaii, the professional golf mix in the state could get back to where it once was with about 10 pro tournaments held in Hawaii as recently as five or six years ago.

PBN: Hawaiian Airlines Creates Maui Hub

read … Tourism Boost

State Has $1 Million Plan For Overdue Elevator Safety Inspections

HR: To address a “crisis” in backlogged elevator safety inspections, the state plans to increase inspection fees to hire new, better-paid inspectors from the private sector, state Labor and Industrial Relations Department Director Dwight Takamine said today.

Some 4,000 elevators around the state are overdue for safety inspections and Takamine said the state plans to address the situation by setting up a special fund initially financed with a $1 million loan.

That money will be used to hire and train six new inspectors from the private sector, where salaries generally run twice as high as in government work, Takamine said.

Salaries for state inspectors are in the range of $40,000, said Takamine.

“$45,000 might be on the high side,” he said, adding that private workers receive “almost double” that. (More proof that HGEA does a lousy job of representing public workers.)

read … $1M

Debris piles up in Hawaii Kai

SA: Residents are upset about trucks depositing loads of asphalt and other material at a 69-acre site….

read … Debris

Water Board appoints new manager

SA: Ernest Y.W. Lau has been appointed manager and chief engineer of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply.The agency's board of directors announced the appointment Thursday.

Lau will begin the job Feb. 1. He succeeds interim Manager Dean A. Nakano.

read … Water Boss

Ed Case Unveils Economic Program

 

Hawaii conference will focus on impact investing

PBN: “About a year and a half ago, I became interested in impact investments, which is looking for both financial returns and social and economic benefit,” said Farnsworth, managing director of Hawaii Angels.

Examples of impact investing include renewable energy, food sustainability, and health and wellness.

“Growth opportunities for Hawaii in impact areas include diversified and sustainable agriculture,” Farnsworth said. “Hawaii has a tremendous growing climate and conditions and several crop-related companies are starting or moving here to test their crop viability. These include biofuels feedstock and petroleum-based ingredients substitutes such as algae.”

Related: Furloughs: Advertiser sides with “sustainability” billionaires against “Save our Sports”

read … We Want More Tax Credits

Obama Whines About Shaking Hands with Troops in Iraq 

Michael Hastings' new book, The Operators, jabs at what could be a vulnerable spot for the Obama Administration, the president's relationship with the troops.

The book describes a visit to Baghdad:

After the talk, out of earshot from the soldiers and diplomats, he starts to complain. He starts to act very un-Obamalike, according to a U.S. embassy official
who helped organize the trip in Baghdad.

He’s asked to go out to take a few more pictures with soldiers and embassy staffers. He’s asked to sign copies of his book. “He didn’t want to take pictures with any more soldiers; he was complaining about it,” a State Department official tells me. “Look, I was excited to meet him. I wanted to like him. Let’s just say the scales fell from my
eyes after I did. These are people over here who’ve been fighting the war, or working every day for the war effort, and he didn’t want to take fucking pictures with them?"

read … Scales Fall from Eyes


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