FHA Bringing Subprime Jumbo Mortgages to Hawaii
"The Haoles are with us" -- Occupy Kauai Working to Take Over KIUC
KOS: The Curiously Conservative and Nepotistic Network of Tulsi Gabbard
Kapolei Town Hall Meeting to Discuss Hospital Closure
Teacher: Tenure is Important to Teacher Retention
Undermining Economic Recovery
Marumoto Introduces Three Bills to Deal with Eccentric Billionaire
Hawaii Cacao Festival at Haleiwa January 29
Legislators Consider Giving Land, Financial backing to Corrupt School Bus Companies, Loosening Safety Requirements
KITV: Last month, education officials presented a report that included, among other things, upping bus fees, eliminating free bus service, and making fewer stops.
Next year, the department is planning to launch a pilot project to stagger the times students are picked up. "Have the elementary schools start earlier and have the high schools start later," said Moore. But one of the biggest questions: why did competitive bidding for bus contracts stopped a few years ago - right around the time the cost of those contracts more than doubled?
Then, this year, for the first time in several years, the state received multiple bidders, for each contract.
…they've decided to lift restrictions on the age limit on buses and no longer require standby buses. In addition, the state may be able to help new contractors find the base yards they need to set up shop. "If we can provide state land for base yards and establish a way so that the state actually takes the risk on purchase of buses, (socialize risk, privatize profit) then we believe that will increase competition, and competition will drive the cost down," said Ige.
read … Hawaii School Bus Transportation In Jeopardy
Tokuda Outlines DoE’s Desperate, Futile Efforts to Save RTTT
“We are nowhere near where we need to be. We need to reform the Hawaii Department of Education,” said Assistant Superintendent Steven Schatz. (DoE execs only ‘get it’ when the Feds put their back against the wall.)
…She says they will implement evaluations for principals which are already allowed by state law, and the governor just introduced two bills to allow teacher evaluations, a potential legal problem, until now. Also, the Department of Education has created a teacher evaluation pilot program which already started in January at three Hawaii schools.
They hope to include 61 schools within the next two years before implementing a statewide program. “We would not hold a teacher accountable for meeting an arbitrary cut score. We want to see growth in every classroom, so that might be different in East Honolulu than the Waianae coast,” said Schatz. He says the department also wants to re-focus on getting students as young as four years old prepared for success in public schools, through more preparatory classes. Later this semester, they'll introduce a student feed back survey, along with a new teacher mentor program.
Matayoshi: Traditional system of evaluating teachers falls short upon receiving tenure
Teacher: Tenure is Important to Teacher Retention
read … Too little, too late
Star-Adv: Legislators Have Chance to Make Sure no Charters like Laupahoehoe are Ever Approved Again
… the final result — an approved but controversial charter, as well as the resignation of three yeoman members of the Charter Schools Review Panel — signals that something went seriously awry here…. (The only thing that went ‘awry’ was the HSTA’s sabotage of Laupahoehoe.)
The birthing of a charter school should not cause such sharp divisions among residents who should await its opening with anticipation instead of rancor. (Culture of consensus gives hecklers’ veto to HSTA)
The first hearings are set: Senate Bill 2115 comes up at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday in room 225, with the House taking testimony on its companion, House Bill 2010, at 2 p.m. in room 309.
These measures were drafted in response to recommendations by a charter schools task force that met last year, and they would restructure the entire governance system to make lines of authority clearer and more efficient, which will be an improvement.
The review panel itself will be among the casualties, to be replaced by the State Public Charter School Commission, which combines functions of the panel as well as the Charter Schools Administrative Office, with some tasks being taken over by individual schools.
The BOE would still hear appeals of the new commission's decisions, and here's where lawmakers should not leave the door open too wide. The commission should not end up being second-guessed for every ruling; that would defeat one of the primary purposes for having charter schools as educational laboratories with some independence from the Department of Education and BOE. It's the Charter Schools Review Panel that has had its ear closer to the ground on individual school matters, and the successor commission should have the reins firmly in hand as well.
Brian De Lima, vice chairman of the BOE, acknowledged that the Laupahoehoe case was troubling, but he said he believed the best thing to do in sorry circumstances was to put the issue to rest and move on. A K-12 school with only about 220 students does not have a long lease on life as a regular DOE campus, he said, so chartering may be best in the long run.
To hasten that outcome, as De Lima correctly observed, "everyone needs to pull together and work for the good of those kids."
read … How will they screw Charters this time?
Carlisle: Rail Planners have been Considering need for Another Massive GE Tax Increase Since 2007
SA: …the extension of the GET surcharge beyond 2022 is not a new option. It was first raised in the November 2007 financial plan as an option to increase revenues. It is not needed now to fund Honolulu's rail project.
The option was also included in the April 2011 draft financial plan for entry into final design. On Page 4-3, in discussing risks and uncertainties, it stated, "Extending the collection period by two years, through Dec. 31, 2024, would generate approximately $817 million in additional GET Surcharge revenues." This was followed by an analysis of how long an extension would be needed in four different hypothetical scenarios of shortfalls such as a lower federal funding stream and a 10 percent cost overrun, which could be filled with a six-quarter extension.
This analysis was revised in our most recent financial plan (September 2011). The proposed time for an extension was shortened because the project cost was reduced. The extension to address a hypothetical 10 percent shortfall was reduced to five quarters.
read … Rail revenues up, contract costs down, so extending GET surcharge not in cards
Hirono: Social Security not Going Bankrupt, But I want to Raise Taxes Anyway
SA: "I think the senior citizens are being scared with information about Social Security going bankrupt, and that is not the case. Even if we didn't do anything, Social Security would continue until 2035," said U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, who faces former congressman Ed Case in the Democratic primary.
Hirono is among more than 100 lawmakers who have signed a pledge to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal interest group in Washington, D.C., to oppose cuts in benefits, an increase in the retirement age or any step toward privatization.
Hirono said she also opposes means testing, which would set an income threshold for seniors to receive benefits….
On Medicare, she supports having the federal government negotiate for bulk purchase of prescription drugs, which the drug industry has fought, preferring to reduce drug costs through discounts and other moves….
"I'm going to fight to make sure that our seniors' earned benefits are protected," she said. (And this might work because my political career will be over before the system collapses.)
Lingle warned about politicians who make promises about entitlements.
"Politicians will stand up and tell you, ‘I'm going to protect Medicare and Social Security and there will never be any changes. We're going to keep it just the way it is,'" she said. "When a candidate tells you that, you know a couple of things about them right away. They don't understand the issue. They don't understand the magnitude of the problem that we face. And they're not willing to be honest with the people of Hawaii.
"If you hear anybody tell you everything is going to stay the same, that is not possible. Both systems would collapse if everything stayed the same." (Wisdom!)
read … Head in Sand vs Wisdom
Consultant Dreams up Ways to Give Billions to DoE School Construction Contractors
SA: "What I see are schools that were built in the 1950s and 1960s that are based on models that don't work anymore," Bingler said. Namely, these are schools in the "factory" configuration, in which cookie-cutter classrooms are lined up along hallways, each of them basically replicating the function of the one-room schoolhouse of the 19th century.
The factory model has been breaking down, he said, but since about half of all Hawaii schools are at least 50 years old, that's what you find here.
Bingler was among the group speaking here recently at "Facilities Matter: The Case for 21st Century Schools," a symposium held at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine.
The event was hosted by the local think tank Hawaii Institute for Public Affairs and was presented by the professional association Council of Educational Facility Planners International. Both HIPA and CEFPI agree on the next step for Hawaii: prodding public policymakers toward a remaking of the state's aging school facilities.
Up until this point, there's been relatively little money spent to change the landscape of Hawaii schools. Mary Filardo is executive director of the 21st Century School Fund, an advocacy group that has studied school districts' expenditures on construction and capital improvements between 1995 and 2008. Hawaii is at the bottom of the list for per-capita outlays.
"Hawaii was spending about $300 per pupil on it, and for the period from 2005 to 2008, the national average was $1,000," she said. "So when you look at that many years of under-budget, you have a big hole that you have to climb out of. You can see it, in the condition of the facilities."
A BILL now in Congress would provide $30 billion nationally for school facilities, she said; Hawaii's share would be about $82 million. Filardo's organization is pushing for more regular federal supplementation of school facility money to take some budgetary pressure off poorer school districts in particular.
SA: Ewa Makai finds new is good
Read … New spaces for brain waves
Ouansafi Fails to Secure Public Housing, Four Stabbed, One dead: Micronesians Blamed
HNN: It's the second deadly attack at the Kalihi complex in less than five months.
Police responded around 6:45 Friday night after a fight broke out involving several people.
Emergency crews took four stabbing victims to the hospital.
One of them later died.
Officers arrested 33-year old Enrico Golden for second degree murder.
Authorities say there were 3 security guards on duty at the time, with two more scheduled to start about 15 minutes later.
The new Director of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority says changes started being implemented a few weeks ago like securing fences in low spots.
Future improvements will include security cameras and only allowing residents in with their cars beyond a certain point.
A curfew will also be enforced, and they're considering undercover work by law enforcement officers.
But some residents still don't feel safe.
SA: At sentencing, lawyer slams Micronesians
HNN: Families of Mayor Wright stabbing victim and suspect speak out
SA: Housing director vows action after Mayor Wright stabbing (Maybe he will host a big September 11th Celebration?)
Meet your Housing Director: Hakim “Islam Day” Ouansafi to Direct Hawaii Public Housing Agency
read … Hawaii Public Housing Authority Director addresses latest stabbing incident
HPD Major recorded talking with key witness in Gambling, Meth Racket
SA: Former police Maj. Carlton Nishimura was recorded as saying he knew people, including other police officers, were going to falsely accuse him of corruption when, as the deputy commander of the downtown patrol district, he shut down only three of the four illegal gambling houses operating on Keeaumoku Street. But, he said, the operations he shut down attracted crime and violence, and police officers in the district's own Crime Reduction Unit weren't doing anything about it….
Nishimura, 56, who retired from the department at the end of last year, has been charged with extortion, witness tampering, lying to investigators and drug possession.
Nishimura was a captain and executive officer of the downtown patrol district when the government said he accepted money to protect a particular illegal gambling operation on Keeaumoku Street and to harass that operation's competitors from April 2004 through March 2006.
In much of the recorded conversation, Nishimura tells Imose he went to her for help in taking down the gambling houses because he needed someone to get his undercover officers inside. He tells her he limited her involvement to introducing him to her ex-husband, who operated the fourth gambling house.
The husband in turn introduced him to a woman who could help get the undercover officers into the other gambling houses….
read … Ex-officer recorded talking with key witness
Hawaii Introduces Legislation for Legal Online Gambling
The first bill calls for the establishment of a state lottery commission, to operate a state lottery, the second would allow for the establishment of land based casino operations in Hawaii. The third bill, HB 2422 looks at the creation of an Internet Lottery and Gambling Corporation that would authorize “internet wagering on games of chance and games of skill, including lottery, poker and casino games.” To comply with the Department of Justice’s recent announcement clarifying the Wire Act Hawaii will not allow, “wagering on any sporting event or sporting contest.”
Hawaii is thinking far ahead should the third bill HB#2422 pass the State would like to enter into, “agreements with other state gaming entities for the offering of multistate games, consistent with state and federal law.” Residents in other states would be allowed to participate in “free-play games and sweepstakes” offering “Hawaii related prizes … for the purpose of attracting tourists and providing free exposure for Hawaii and Hawaii businesses.”
The revenue from the proposed legalization of internet wagering in Hawaii is listed in the bill with thirty five percent of proceeds being allotted to the improvement of public schools while another twenty five percent would go to capital improvements to the University of Hawaii. Five percent of funds would be given to programs for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling.
read … Online-Casinos.com
Borreca Outlines Legislative Plans for Big Cable, Big Wind
Borreca: Abercrombie is again offering up legislation that will smooth the way for private developers to construct the power generation and transfer system.
Abercrombie continues to move away from the energy plan he offered during his campaign. At that time, he said a new state energy department would handle all energy needs.
Now the responsibility is falling more on the Public Utilities Commission.
In his speech, Abercrombie said, "One of my primary energy initiatives will be to provide the Public Utilities Commission with the explicit authority to develop, adopt and monitor electricity reliability standards.
"This will include jurisdiction over how independent power producers connect to the grid."
Hawaiian Electric Co. now reports that new technology means that building the cable is feasible. Back when first announced in 2010 under Gov. Linda Lingle, the discussion over technology was much more abstract; now there are specific, existing, successful programs from the North Sea to the Philippines.
Last year the Legislature stalled over a bill to allow the electric company to move ahead.
That bill would let the PUC control the interisland power cable network, presumably to control costs for customers while making sure the system worked.
Also, HECO says the developer would bear the financial risk of building the cable, not Hawaii electricity customers. A developer would not begin to be paid until the cable is complete and carrying power to customers.
read … Plans for Big Cable
Cataluna Likes Mayoral Field
…For now, let's appreciate the gift of three strong, accomplished mayoral candidates who seem to be genuinely focused on fixing the city, not on higher office. With the likes of Frank, Jeremy and Mufi, that's a luxury Honolulu voters haven't had in a long time….
read … Cataluna
Hotel sector experiencing solid gains
KGI: Kaua‘i occupancy levels increased from 50.8 percent to 58.4 percent for the month, whereas O‘ahu rose from 75.2 percent to 78.1 percent. Statewide, occupancy levels rose 3.3 percent to 70.9 percent.
Kaua‘i room rates were up an average of $8.77 to $187.08 last year. Statewide room rates rose an average of $18.08, or 8.9 percent, to 184.79, representing the 13th straight month of ADR gains. Hospitality Advisors reports that high-paying delegates attending the APEC summit helped boost the statewide ADR average.
Hotel revenues per room increased $18.67 to $109.25 in Kaua‘i for November, and was up $16.30, or 14.2 percent, to $131.02 for the state due to the rise in both occupancy and ADR.
Most notably, O‘ahu broke its 2006 record for RevPar, achieving a 9.6 percent increase to $135.64. Maui had the highest ADR at $216.41, up 4.7 percent. The Big Island continues to lag in its recovery, with the lowest occupancy and smallest gains. ADR is down slightly to $173.83, but slight improvements in occupancy levels helped RevPar improve modestly, the Flash Report states.
Read … Occupancy Rates
500-day repair project due for sewer lines in Waikiki
SA: Intermittent loud construction noise, bad smells, road closures and other traffic disruptions will accompany an upcoming $5.7 million, 500-day Waikiki sewer project to repair manholes and fix sagging and clogged sewer lines in the heart of the state's tourism district.
The project, slated to begin in mid-March, will use cured-in-place pipe, or CIPP, technology to rehabilitate about 6,174 linear feet of pipes under Kuhio Avenue from Namahana to Kapuni streets. The city will also improve 32 sewer manholes throughout Waikiki. Repairs will stretch across a 738-acre section of Waikiki that is home to about 20,000 residents, 75,000 tourists and 30,000 workers….
"We requested a noise variance so that we could work 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Okita said.
read … Waikiki
Aiea pet store target of protest for second week
HNN: An Aiea pet store with ties to a controversial Waimanalo puppy mill was again the target of protesters Saturday
read ... Aiea pet store target of protest for second week
St. Louis parade on Iraq War's end draws thousands
AP: Looking around at the tens of thousands of people waving American flags and cheering, Army Maj. Rich Radford was moved that so many braved a cold January wind Saturday in St. Louis to honor people like him: Iraq War veterans.
The parade, borne out of a simple conversation between two St. Louis friends a month ago, was the nation's first big welcome-home for veterans of the war since the last troops were withdrawn from Iraq in December.
"It's not necessarily overdue, it's just the right thing," said Radford, a 23-year Army veteran who walked in the parade alongside his 8-year-old daughter, Aimee, and 12-year-old son, Warren.
read … Welcome Home
Rep Gene Ward Announcement of International Holocaust Remembrance Day
In 2005 the UN General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this annual day of commemoration, every member state of the UN has an obligation to honor the victims of the Nazi era and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides.
This year's theme is Children and the Holocaust. Watch or read Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's remarks on the 1.5 million Jewish children and the tens of thousands of other youths who died during the Holocaust.
Better Government Hawaii State House Minority Bill Package
Host Representative Kymberly Pine speaks with Representative Aaron Ling Johanson and Beth Fukumoto, director of Minority Research about the 2012 bill package.
VIDEO … LINK
400 Military Reservists to set up Free Clinics on Kauai
KGI: A partnership between military reservists and state health care professionals will allow all Kaua‘i residents access to free routine medical care, including medicines and dental and vision services, from Feb. 28 through March 9.
An exultant Dr. Dileep Bal, Kaua‘i district health officer for the state Department of Health, told the Kaua‘i County Council on Wednesday that a partnership between the state agency, federal Department of Defense and community support organizations resulted in the project called Tropic Care 2012.
A team of about 400 military reservists from around the country, including physicians and other health care professionals, will set up clinics to serve whoever shows up from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Kaua‘i Community College in Puhi, All Saint’s Episcopal Church in Kapa‘a and Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple Zenshuji in Hanapepe….
Read … But they're not good enough for Reapportionment Counting
Memorial Service for HPD Officer Davis
KITV: A memorial service and candlelight vigil was held for fallen HPD Officer Garret Davis one week after he was killed in a fiery H-1 crash.
The memorial held at the New Hope Church in Waipahu was the first held for the three-year HPD veteran.
Davis was killed one week ago, on the night of Jan. 21, after a truck hit his squad car when he stopped to help a driver on the H-1 freeway in Aiea near the Kaonohi overpass.
Davis was had stopped while on a routine assignment transferring paperwork from Wahiawa to downtown Honolulu.
SA: Fallen HPD officer is remembered as happy, selfless
Read … Davis Memorial