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Tuesday, January 24, 2012
January 24, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:51 PM :: 10542 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Hirono, Hanabusa Vote for $1.2 Trillion More Federal Debt

House GOP: Abercrombie Leads us into Deficit Next Year

Gun Owners: Help Tom Berg Repeal the Koko Shooting Complex Fees

60% State of the State Speech ‘Well Below Average’

What did you think of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's State of the State address?

  • C. Well below average (60%, 413 Votes)
  • B. Average (32%, 218 Votes)
  • A. Well above average (8%, 58 Votes)

Total Voters: 689

read … Below Average Abercrombie

Borreca: If you work for state government, yesterday's speech was all about you

Call this the forgotten speech: The State of the State speech that was left behind.

From 2011's year of self-described economic catastrophe transformed into 2012's steady sailing with a following wind, Gov. Neil Abercrombie launched his second year in office with little memory of the past.

…Abercrombie's rhetoric last year was cataclysmic, the state was not just drifting off-course — the ship of state was sinking faster then the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia….

The state is moving on course, Abercrombie said in his 51-minute speech, because the public workers took pay cuts and reduced benefits.

"To all of you who came to work each day bearing the burden of cuts and slashes to your programs for the past three years, and to those of you who gave up furloughs because of your commitment to serving Hawaii's people, I thank you.

"Mahalo plenty to each and every one of you," Abercrombie said.

If there was a spare "mahalo plenty" for the scores of businesses that saw their taxes rise, or the taxpayers who will soon start filling out tax forms without benefit of all those state deductions, Abercrombie did not drop that mahalo on the taxpaying masses.

If you work for state government, yesterday's speech was all about you — but if you are in private business, you were mentioned tangentially, at best….

There was a proposal to pop a laptop into the hands of each of our 170,000 public school students. Even a math casualty such as myself can multiple 170,000 by the cost of just a $500 iPad and know that the state is not going on an $85 million laptop-buying spending spree this year, so why did Abercrombie bring it up?

SA: Modest plans for future prosperity

CB: State of the State 2011: Final Tally: Five passed, six died and two are in progress.

read … State of the State speech mostly about playing nice

Ego Games: Abercrombie Strokes Say, Tsutsui

CB:"Great speech," said Tustsui.

"I'm very excited," said Say….

Others are not so sure.

"Because there is so much talk about the economy being better now and, 'Oh, we can breathe a sigh of relief, oh, we cut $1.3 billion, we had to close a gap' — that was done with half taxes and half spending restrictions," said Rep. Gil Riviere, a Republican minority whip. "So, half way through the year, all of a sudden we've got just a little bit more than we thought we were going to have. That's not a surplus. That's still 'less bad.'"

Riviere said the six-year projection Tustsui referenced "is not rosy. "We're going to limp through this year, and then we go into a deficit next year, a bigger deficit, and pretty soon we're 300 million bucks in the hole — if everything goes as projected right now."

Riviere continued: "What is not being spoken about today is that we've still got to hold the line and be ready for the out years."

MN: Shared objectives with Senate draw applause

read … Say, Tsutsui Bask in Governor's Love

After Letting HMC Die, Legislators Finally Get Around to Backing Organ Transplant Center

SA: State House and Senate negotiators agreed Monday on a bill that would provide $1.5 million in state money that would be matched by Queen's to help cover the estimated $3 million in startup costs for the transplant facility. The bill would also direct $300,000 to the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, which would be matched by private donors to offer renal services to patients.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in his State of the State address Monday that he would back an emergency appropriation for the $1.8 million.

House and Senate leaders had promised to fast-track the transplant center bill, one of several that stalled at the end of last session due to an unrelated dispute over tax policy. The bill could clear the Legislature and reach the governor's desk within the next several days.

Related: HB 608: Legislators Could Have Saved HMC Organ Transplant Center Last Year—Bill Was Killed at Last Minute

read … And now they are acting like heroes

Parroting HECO, Abercrombie Blames Hawaii Electric Rates on Non-Existent Singapore Speculators

CB: Specifically, he said:

We are totally in the hands of oil speculators in Singapore.

The governor's spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said that by oil speculators Abercrombie was referring to "the people who set the prices."

"What he is saying is that the state government cannot control the price of electricity or gasoline. Those prices are set elsewhere and that is why we need to take creating our own power into our own hands," she said.

Civil Beat contacted oil experts, Tesoro Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric Co. and the state energy office to verify the claim. HECO, the energy office and Tesoro declined to tackle the inquiry.

Fereidun Fesharaki, an international oil consultant and a senior fellow at the East-West Center, emailed Civil Beat from Tokyo to say that contrary to Abercrombie's statement there is no futures market in Singapore.

"There are no speculators in Singapore. There is no future's market in Singapore," he wrote. "There is a future's market in the US: NYMEX, one in London ICE and one in Dubai just starting up called DME or Dubai Mercantile Exchange."

Related: Big Wind, Big Cable: To Stampede Legislature, HECO Trumpets High Rates

read … Abercrombie’s latest Bogey Man

Green Energy Scammers Freak out Over Natural Gas

CB: Gov. Neil Abercrombie included natural gas as a potential alternative energy source for Hawaii as the state strives to break its dependence on imported oil during his State of the State address on Monday.

But the idea hasn’t gone over well with Blue Planet Foundation, which issued a press release shortly afterward.

Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the nonprofit clean energy advocacy group, praised the governor’s statements on the need to modernize the electric grid and increase renewable energy, but criticized the idea that natural gas should be included in the mix.

Blue Planet is concerned, however, that the Governor included natural gas—not currently part of Hawaii’s electricity landscape—as an alternative for electricity production among local, clean, renewable sources of energy.

“Imported natural gas does not rank with indigenous photovoltaic, wind, geothermal, biofuel, and ocean resources as solutions fit to achieve Hawaii’s energy security,” Mikulina said. “Our state’s energy mix must come from the abundant, local sources of clean, renewable power. We can not afford to deepen our reliance on imported, volatile fossil fuels.”

(BTW, thanks to fracking, Natural gas prices are the lowest in years. Interesting that Abercrombie left out hydro there are tree cheap sources of energy--gas, hydro, and geothermal--and they are all vigorously opposed by the eco-scammers pushing solar and wind.)

Back in the real world: Maine PUC Rejects Giant Wind Farm Because of “Risk to Ratepayers”

read … If Blue Planet is against it, it must be a good idea

HB2400: HECO Should Only Own Transmission Lines

HB2400 Report Title: Electric Public Utilities; Operations; Rates; Energy Sources

Description: Limits the operations of any electric public utility. Requires acquisition of electricity by a power purchase agreement with an unaffiliated entity. Requires utility to purchase lowest cost non-fossil fuel generated electricity prior to purchasing fossil fuel generated electricity. Requires PUC to establish a statewide electricity rate. Exempts IRC section 501(c) (12) utilities. Prioritizes geothermal as a replacement for fossil fuel. Effective 1/01/15.

The 27 page bill states in part: "Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no electric utility company shall own or operate both the means of producing electricity and the means of conveying, transmitting, delivering, or furnishing electricity to the public." bill: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2012/bills/HB2400_.pdf

read … Charlene on Green

Hunters protest Abercrombie’s Watershed Management restrictions

HTH: Hunters and their supporters took to a Hilo street Monday to protest a state plan to ban hunting within 4,800 acres of public forest located south of Hilo.

Feeling their way of life is being threatened, about 20 participants held pro-hunting signs and waved at morning commuters while gathered outside the state's Forestry and Wildlife Division headquarters on Kilauea Avenue….

"It's sacred, that place," Travis Afong said of the 18,706-acre Puu Makaala Natural Area Reserve located near the top of Stainback Highway and including much of the former Kulani prison site.

The state earlier this month released a 15-year management plan that calls for installing 17 miles of fencing to keep pigs, goats and sheep out of four management areas above the 3,300-foot-elevation level….

Also, only 5.2 percent of Big Island "priority" watersheds are now protected, and half of Hawaii's forests have been lost during the past 200 years, she said….

read … Hunting Ban

Many Will be Moved to make Way for Malama Solomon’s Senate Seat

WHT: The Hawaii Supreme Court wants the state Reapportionment Commission to get out of court and get back to work, according to a tersely worded order filed Friday.

The order makes a fourth state senator for Hawaii Island an almost certainty, Reapportionment Commission Chairwoman Victoria Marks told West Hawaii Today on Monday.

Marks said she's heard people from around the state ask that the commission not change their particular state House or Senate district as the maps are redrawn.

"There are changes in the numbers, so it's inevitable the lines are going to move," Marks said….

Marks takes that to mean the commission may be able to use computer modeling or estimates if it doesn't have the full information about how many nonresident military, dependents and students are in each area.

The plaintiffs say that number totals 121,494 out of a state population of 1.36 million.

Marks said the military will likely provide new numbers by Thursday, and the University of Hawaii is also trying to determine how many students are not state residents.

The commission plans to meet Monday to work on new maps. The maps will then be the focus of two more commission meetings before they're adopted.

read … A holding action until Federal Litigation is Launched

SB2210: Clayton Hee Introduces Waikiki Casino Bill

CB: Senate Bill 2210 comes from state Sen. Clayton Hee.

Grants twenty-year license for one stand-alone casino in Waikiki not in a hotel. Establishes Hawaii Gaming Control Commission. Imposes fifteen per cent wagering tax on gross receipts. Creates State Gaming Fund and Compulsive Gambler Program. Effective July 1, 2012.

read … Roll the Dice

Doubtful future of game dulls Pro Bowl fervor

Abercrombie’s first act as governor: Chase the Pro-Bowl out of Hawaii.

read … Thanks, Neil

Rail has Already Cost Taxpayers $800M

SA: The half-percent excise tax surcharge levied on Oahu residents and visitors has brought in more than $810 million so far to fund the Honolulu rail project, with collections continuing to run ahead of projections, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation said Monday.

HART received $49.02 million in general excise tax revenue for the three months ending on Dec. 31, which was $12.08 million more than projected in the financial plan for the rail project.

The half-percent excise surcharge took effect in January 2007, and is set to expire at the end of 2022. In all, the tax surcharge is expected to provide more than $3.15 billion for the 20-mile rail project, which is projected to cost $5.27 billion.

read … $800M out of Your Pocket

Carroll Campaign Manager: Cayetano is the Devil

HR: Red, with horns and a tail….

read … Atomic Monkey Cartoon

Donor Fears Non-Profit CEOs Will Steal Contribution

SA: Perreira, an avid collector of Hawaiian antiquities, has a 10.5-foot mirror originally owned by Princess Ruth Keelikolani and later bequeathed, as part of the Keoua Hale estate, to Bernice Pauahi Bishop. The mirror later passed from Claus Spreckels to the Castle family and finally to Perreira.

While none of the many antique dealers and appraisers who have seen the mirror have questioned its authenticity, Perreira says no one has given him a straight or honest answer about its worth.

Perreira has approached museums, churches, even major trusts trying to find a home for the historic treasure. The response, he says, has been puzzling, leading him to think that people might want it for reasons other than to leverage its worth to help others.

"People might not believe me because I'm an old bastard and I speak classic pidgin, but I know what I'm talking about," Perreira says. "Human beings eating from garbage cans is a damn disgrace. People out there need help, and I want this mirror to be used to help them. I don't want it to be snuck out the back door to some CEO's private home."

read … Incidental Lives

Nine Years Later, City Ordered to Pay $2.8M Settlement for Retaliation

CB: A woman who said she lost her job with the city for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing nearly ten years ago has been awarded a $2.8 million settlement by the Honolulu City Council.

In early 2008, a jury found the city wrongfully terminated Nancy Olipares from her job after she complained about what she claimed was wrongdoing in the administration of former Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris.

"The biggest thing was hearing that the jury affirmed for me that I didn't do anything wrong," Olipares told reporters after the verdict in 2008. Through her lawyer, David Simons, she declined an interview Monday.

In 2003, her contract was not renewed as head of the Oahu Workforce Investment Board, a federally-funded city agency that provides job training and other employment help.

Olipares said Michael Amii, then the director of the city's Department of Community Services, fired her in retaliation for reporting the misuse of federal funds in the program.

Among other things, Olipares accused Amii of wrongfully using government money for a trip.

read … Retaliation

Big Cable Would Bring Five Times More Wind Farm Scams to Hawaii

EnergyBiz: If you wanted to create a laboratory for clean energy, you might pick these attributes: an isolated market; one that’s almost wholly dependent on fossil fuels; and it has abundant wind and sun. One such lab already exists. It’s called Hawaii. (And we ratepayers are the guinea pigs.)

The archipelago is dependent on power generated by diesel fueled power plants supplied by the mainland, and now has embarked on an aggressive campaign to produce its own energy, using wind and solar, with a little geothermal and biomass kicked in. And it has the most ambitious renewable portfolio standard, long-term, that even tops California’s.

Oahu, the largest demand in the system, has a power demand of about 2,000 megawatts. A federal study earlier this year contemplated scenarios for a successful integration of 500 megawatts of wind through a combination of sites on the island and connections with wind facilities on other islands.

Hawaii currently has 93 megawatts of wind and HECO just recently signed a power purchase agreement with First Wind for another 69-megawatt project on Oahu.

read … Hawaii is Baking Up a lot of Wind and Sun

Laupahoehoe charter school fight continues after HSTA Contract Defeat

The defeated HSTA contract would have allowed teachers to go to work at a charter school without losing their seniority.

read … Laupahoehoe

Abercrombie “Done Waiting for the HSTA”

CB: His education policy adviser, Tammi Chun, explained that while performance pay may be delayed until teachers ratify a new contract, a bigger-picture perspective on Hawaii's Race to the Top assurances shows the state is making progress. Some of the big education reforms Hawaii has already begun implementing include:

  • Common Core State Standards: Nationally aligned curriculum standards that will help states accurately compare student achievement.
  • Data for School Improvement: A data system that teachers and school administrators can use to create informal assessments that will help guide their teaching strategies.
  • Longitudinal Data System: An interactive system that tracks student information and behavior with more than 100 different metrics and reports, including test scores, absence records, family income status, etc. This also can be used to guide teachers' educational strategies in the classroom.
  • Zones of School Innovation: Two high-need areas in the state where the Department of Education is piloting various reforms, including teacher evaluations.

While Abercrombie promises to continue pressing for a contract that the teachers will ratify, he says he's done waiting on the union to implement promised education reforms.

"We cannot wait any longer," he said on Monday.

CB: Abercrombie: 'Not A Single Thing We Did Not Do To Try To Accommodate Teachers'

read … Too little, too late

Federal Judge Slaps Hawaii with Injunction for Food Stamp Delays

CB: Civil Beat previously reported that the state pays staff to retype every food stamp application despite the fact that the applications are already filled out via computer to begin with.

Monday’s order requires DHS to come in full compliance with federal timeliness requirements by December 12, 2012 and meet benchmarks of 80% compliance by April 30, 85% compliance by July 31, and 90% compliance by October 31, 2012.

SA: Judge orders state to correct food stamp-processing problems

read … Thanks, HGEA

Hawaii minimum raise could rise $1 over 2 years

HNN: The House Labor and Public Employment Committee on Tuesday will consider House Bill 1682, which would raise the minimum wage to $7.75 beginning July 1, 2012 and $8.25 beginning July 1, 2013.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages above $7.25, with Washington state topping the list at $9.04 an hour.

read … $8.25

Police Officer's Death Increases Push For "Move Over" Bill

KITV: Honolulu police officer Garret Davis put his life in danger Saturday night along the H-1 freeway to help two people in a stranded vehicle. Davis, a son and a new father, he joined the department soon after the birth of his daughter, wouldn't get out of his police car before a truck hit him from behind. A ball of fire swallowed the vehicle; police say witnesses heard bullets exploding, officer Davis trapped inside….

KITV: Ford Crown Victoria Cars Should Be Recalled, Center For Auto Safety Says

Read … Move Over

House Labor committee chips away at the Sunshine law, and adds special headache clause

DN: HB1356 sought to restrict information about public worker employee salaries and other details of employment that are currently public records. The bill was likely introduced in response to concerns after a massive initial posting of employee information by Civil Beat on September 14, 2010. More on the background follows below.

After receiving testimony and questioning several of us, the Committee chair, Rep. Karl Rhoads, agreed with testifiers such as Common Cause that the release of names and salary information is important to maintain government transparency, but decided that information on education, training, background, and previous employment experience should be withheld. Several testifiers reported, on being questioned, that they know of no cases of identity theft as a result of the availability of the information up to now.

The information Rhoads wishes to withhold could, indeed, reveal situations of nepotism, abuse or cronyism, and so his amendment represent a degradation of information available to watchdogs and the public.

But the real headache will be his exemption for victims of domestic violence. Certainly, victims would not want their addresses released, for example. The exemption is well-intended, but probably unworkable.

What will the state do the next time Civil Beat asks for the information for all employees—will they question each employee as to whether they are a victim of domestic violence?

read … Sausage watch: House Labor committee chips away at the Sunshine law, and adds special headache clause

Berg Raises Zero for 2011

CB: Berg raised $0 between July and December. He raised the same amount between January and June of last year, giving him a donut for 2011.

He did spend $359 last month on business cards and T-shirts for the campaign. He paid for that with apersonal loan to the campaign, which is now about $30,000 in debt heading into the election year.

Read … Berg Donut

Kauai Beach Cleanup Does Not Find Any Plastic Bags

KGI: “There’re a lot of nets out there,” Zelkovsky said. “We recently found two near Kealia, but they’re almost straight down and it’s almost impossible to remove them.”

As volunteers worked to unearth the portion of netting near the shoreline, people walking the beach stopped to help, one group of young girls finding a submerged net near rocks above the high water mark.

The discovery prompted the group to break into smaller groups, some dispersing to help the girls unearth their find while others hauled off the nets for disposal.

One volunteer said Surfrider almost had a full container of netting, which will be shipped to O‘ahu where it will be burned to make energy.

Using a truck from the Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park, the large shorebreak netting was finally hauled above the waterline where it was broken down for disposal. The entire operation yielded more than two heaping pickup loads of nets. (The word ‘plastic bag’ occurs nowhere in this article.)

Read … No Bags in Sight

Fired County Worker Pulls Political Strings, Gets 4 Hours of Kauai Council Time

KGI: The reason which prompted County Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho’s presentation Wednesday took center stage rather than her presentation’s content, which Iseri-Carvalho repeatedly said was old news. Council Vice Chair JoAnn Yukimura’s questions regarding funding often came back with answers intertwined with“already gave you” and “again.”

The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney hired victim witness counselor Erin Wilson in August and laid her off 78 days later. Wilson then contacted council members alleging Iseri-Carvalho caused a “tremendous backlog of cases” due to mismanagement.

Iseri-Carvalho called Wilson a “jilted employee” and said her accusations were a “thinly veiled political attack.” Her office’s current and former staff members backed Iseri-Carvalho with written and verbal testimony.

Read … Job Security?

Hawaii Co Council Candidates Line Up for Public Funding

WHT: Seven Hawaii County Council candidates have so far filed declarations of intent to seek public funding as the second election year of the three-election-cycle pilot program begins.

The candidates as of Monday are Gregorr Ilagan and James Weatherford, District 4; Maile David, Brenda Ford and Harry Mcintosh, District 6; Karen Eoff, District 8 and Margaret Wille, District 9, according to Tony Baldomero, associate director of the state Campaign Spending Commission.

Weatherford is an old hand in the procedure, as he qualified for funding in the 2010 election. Wille is a first-time candidate.

read … Public Funds

Hawaii Ties Nevada for Least Toxic Waste

Hawaii is 19th in “alt energy”. #1 is Idaho.

read … Green Rank

Court approval expected for Waikiki Edition hotel reorganization

HNN: U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Honolulu will rule within two months on a reorganization for the hotel that used to be the Ilikai Marina Tower, and approval of the plan is expected.

The 353-room hotel is now called the Modern Honolulu. Before that it was the Waikiki Edition. The failure of the Edition brand to take off lies at the root of the problems that led to the Chapter 11 filing last year.

read … Out of BK

Mokulele One Stop to England Starting May 6

Rockford, Il: Weekly nonstop charter flights offering low-cost service from Rockford to London and Honolulu have been approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Charter World Solutions, doing business as Mokulele Tours, plans to make its inaugural flight from Honolulu International Airport to Chicago Rockford International Airport on Friday, April 13. It has scheduled its first departure to Honolulu on Sunday, April 15. It plans to continue a Friday arrival-Sunday departure schedule through August, according to its DOT filing.

Rockford-to-London flights are scheduled to begin Friday, May 4. Mokulele will make a return trip from England Sunday, May 6.

read … Non-Stop to Chicago

Finns in Honolulu Given Opportunity to Vote for Finnish President

HR: Finns living in, and visiting, Hawaii had the chance to cast their votes in Finland’s 2012 advanced Presidential election held in Honolulu on Jan. 11 and 12 at 1132 Bishop Street. The voting, organized by the Consulate of Finland, drew both local residents and Finnish vacationers.

read … Finnish Elections


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