VIDEO: Hirono Blames Bush, Claims Case and Lingle are Bush
Politico: Hawaii Senate Race ‘Could Offer Biggest Surprise’
Full Text: Judiciary Testifies on 21 Bills
HB2318: Support Veteran-Owned Businesses
Epic Ohana Foster Care Expands to East Hawaii Island
State Launches Internet Speed Test Site
Abercrombie Appoints New DAGS Comptroller
Note: Civil Beat was offline this morning
Obama Popularity Drop Boosts Lingle’s Chances
Political Radar: But for political analysts in Hawaii looking at Obama’s potential influence on the U.S. Senate race, there is a more interesting statistic. Obama’s job approval dropped from 66 percent in 2010, a 9.8 percent decline, the largest in the nation.
Analysts project that former Gov. Linda Lingle’s chances against either U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono or former congressman Ed Case in the Senate race diminish the better Obama performs in the islands. Anything higher than a 60 percent to 65 percent vote for the president would likely make it difficult for the Republican Lingle to compete.
SA: Ed Case says Hirono operating from ‘Tired old playbook.’
read … Approve*
HSTA Attacks Proposed Revisions in Charter School Law
SA: The proposed overhaul of Hawaii's charter school law received its first public hearing at the Legislature Wednesday and ran into strong opposition from the teachers' union but received conditional support from many charter schools.
Senate Education Chairwoman Jill Tokuda, who headed the task force that produced Senate Bill 2115, said she expects revisions as it moves through the Legislature….
The bill, patterned largely on model national legislation, would put charter schools on performance contracts and strengthen monitoring of the charter system. Those provisions received support at the hearing.
But other sections of the bill, including substantial changes to charter school governance, proved more controversial. For example, the authorizer of charter schools as well as the local boards that govern each school would be chosen based on qualifications such as fiscal knowledge, rather than as representatives of constituency groups such as teachers and community members.
"Eliminating teachers as required representatives on a local school board shuts out the voice of teachers," said Al Nagasako, executive director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association….
Another big bone of contention was the proposal to phase out the Charter School Administrative Office. The bill would transfer some of its functions to charter campuses, some to the Department of Education and some to the charter school authorizers.
"Our greatest concern is the elimination of the only support agency for charters," said Don Young, director of the Hawaii Education Policy Center. "Over the years, all the charters have benefited by this office, in many ways that are invisible. Smaller charters will not have the ability, expertise or funds to stand alone without the kinds of administrative expertise and support we take for granted within the Hawaii Department of Education."
The Hawaii Public Charter Schools Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, generally favored the legislation, but identified that issue as one of its top concerns. Its executive director, Lynn Finnegan, said its survey of state charter schools found that just 13.7 percent of respondents opposed the bill, while the rest supported it, most of them with reservations….
Another concern raised at the hearing was the desire to "prevent another Laupahoehoe" by clarifying that schools should convert to charter status only with the active support and collaboration of their teachers and staff. The Board of Education recently overruled the Charter School Review Panel and converted Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School into a charter school.
"I'm very surprised at the decision that was made to basically force parents, students and teachers into a charter school that they were not ready to accept," said Sen. Michelle Kidani, (D, Mililani-Waipio), vice chair of education.
The Hawaii Government Employees Association said the legislation should also add a process to allow employees to switch to another school when a regular public school becomes a charter….
read … HSTA Attacks
Legislature Seeks Changes in Law to Fake teacher Accountability Requirements of RTTT
SA: The effort to require the new teacher evaluations in state law — and spell out that the rating system will be used for decisions such as compensation, tenure and, in the case of ineffective teachers, dismissal — comes amid growing doubt nationally about Hawaii's ability to meet its ambitious pledges under the Race to the Top grant program.
A host of delays in meeting Race initiatives prompted the U.S. Department of Education in December to put the state's $75 million Race grant on "high-risk status" and warn officials the money could be lost if more progress is not made.
State Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi told lawmakers that putting elements of the Race to the Top plan in law would hold the state to its word and send a strong signal to Washington, D.C., that Hawaii is committed to education reforms.
"There is some concern from the U.S. Department of Education on whether we can reach the ultimate goal of a (performance-based) rating system" for teachers, Matayoshi said.
Lawmakers considered two measures Wednesday, one that as written would do away with tenure for public school teachers, and a second that would require the department to implement teacher evaluations in which 50 percent of a rating is based on student achievement, such as test scores.
Decisions on both measures were deferred until Monday….
The measure spurred a strong negative response from teachers, hundreds of whom submitted written testimony to voice their concerns.
read … Teacher reviews garner qualified support
Star-Adv: First Cost Overrun Shows HART Needs Work on Transparency
Star-Adv: HART had signed nearly $3 billion in contracts by December, a third of which amount was assigned to the Kiewit construction company, although much of that contracted work had yet to begin. In this case, HART had signed a 2009 contract with Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. to build the rail guideway, but Kiewit incurred extra cost due to delays in the work schedule because the Federal Transit Administration's approval of an environmental impact statement came later than anticipated.
Such delays are to be expected, so rail's total projected cost includes an $860 million contingency fund to deal with change orders and other yet-unknown cost increases. While contracts may be active, HART interim executive director Toru Hamayasu has explained that unexpected delays, such as a company holding back its work, adds installation and "delay claims."
"Kiewit, with our request, mobilized the people so that essentially the equipment, the lease, whatever, all of those are accumulating," Hamayasu told the Star-Advertiser's Kevin Dayton. "Kiewit is incurring the cost."
The public learned about the $15 million change order to Kiewit through a Dec. 27 letter from Hamayasu to the FTA, after related documents were distributed to the media. Hamayasu wrote that the city had been overly optimistic in awarding the 2009 contract to Kiewit to "demonstrate to the public that tangible progress was being made" on the project.
In years past, such a cost change would likely have been handled by bureaucrats without mention to taxpayers. Such wraps no longer are tolerated — vocal opposition to rail remains steadfast — and the HART board needs to assure the public that important information will be accessible and upfront, not imbedded within its website's labyrinth layers.
Just days ago, HART did add a "HART monthly reports" button on its webpage (http://www.honolulu transit.org/hart/), a small but helpful step in the right direction.
Soon after becoming HART chairwoman, Carrie Okinaga claimed to recognize the public expectation that "HART's mandate is clear: oversee the construction and operation of the city's fixed guideway system in a well-managed and transparent manner."
In actual practice, this needs work….
read … Public needs more information on rail
Gambling bills given little chance
SA: "This action would exploit the Native Hawaiians for the benefit of mainland gambling interests and the culture and quality of life of Native Hawaiians would not be self-sustaining, but disintegrate," said Dianne Kay of the Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling.
Alapaki Nahale-a, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands director, offered comments on the bill, saying it was not an issue about whether gambling would benefit Native Hawaiians or the state as a whole, but one of self-determination.
"The question in this bill is not whether gaming is good or bad, it's whether Hawaiian Homes should determine whether gaming is good or bad on their land for their people," he said.
"I have full faith, not only in our commission but in our Hawaiian homestead beneficiaries, that they would vet this better than anyone else in the state of Hawaii," he said. "They would make sure that if gaming was allowed, it would be the right kind of gaming for our people and for the state and it would have safeguards in place."
Others supported the notion that Native Hawaiians and the Homes Commission should have greater authority in determining the matter and, at the very least, the discussion should occur among Native Hawaiians.
Rep. Faye Hanohano, the Hawaiian Affairs Committee chairwoman, said she felt the discussion should occur first, before the groups come to the Legislature.
"The discussion really needs to take place with the beneficiaries and with the commissioners before we can really move this forward," said Hanohano (D, Pahoa-Kalapana). "(They should) have their conversations so they know it's something people want."
Nahale-a said he expects those discussions to take place if such a bill is passed, but having those discussions beforehand would use up valuable resources.
"Given all that we have to do to get our homesteaders a house and manage our natural resources, the issue of gaming is so volatile it'll take a little more for me to devote the resources and energy to make gaming our solution for the future," he said. "We certainly want autonomy over our lands, but I'm not going to debate gaming — that would suck up a lot of my time and energy and it's full as it is helping Hawaiians."
Oi: Few locals visit Waikiki, but a casino could change that
read … Gambling
Accused Hawaii Jihadi in terror trial wants statement made to FBI dismissed
NY Post: Shehadeh, a US citizen who was born and raised in New York, has been charged with three counts of making false statements in connection with a terrorism offense.
In several airport encounters with FBI agents in 2008, Shehadeh allegedly denied that his efforts to travel to the Middle East and southwest Asia stemmed from an interest in joining a jihadist group.
But Shehadeh - who operated Web sites calling for a holy war against the West - eventually admitted that if he had been successful in his effort to travel to Pakistan, he hoped to be tutored in "guerrilla warfare" and "bomb-making," and - "without a doubt - he would have joined the Taliban," prosecutors say in court documents.
Also in 2008, Shehadeh appeared at the Times Square recruiting station and tried unsuccessfully to join the Army.
Officials believe that he intended to gain sophisticated US military training that he could later use to fight overseas with insurgent groups against US military forces.
Judge Eric Vitaliano has not yet ruled on whether Shehadeh's statements to FBI agents can be introduced at his upcoming trial.
Read … Hawaii Jihadi
Hawaii operation swells Tesoro's quarterly loss
SA: Operations at Hawaii's largest oil refinery contributed to a $124 million loss for Tesoro Corp. in the fourth quarter of 2011, though the company still produced a full-year profit of $546 million.
San Antonio-based Tesoro, which said last month it intends to sell its refinery and chain of 32 gas stations in Hawaii, reported 2011 fourth-quarter and full-year financial results on Wednesday. The company added no new information about the sale effort.
Tesoro's fourth-quarter loss compared with a $3 million profit in the same quarter the year before. Its profit last year represented the company's best performance since 2007, and compared with a loss of $29 million in 2010.
Greg Goff, Tesoro president and CEO, said the banner year was largely due to increased refinery utilization, reduced manufacturing costs and a favorable spread between the cost of crude oil and the price of refined products.
That spread, however, wasn't great in the fourth quarter, especially at the Hawaii refinery.
The spread, also known as the refining margin, was a negative $4.33 per barrel in the fourth quarter compared with a positive $4.79 a barrel in the year-earlier quarter for the Hawaii refinery.
The refinery at Campbell Industrial Park was the only one of Tesoro's seven refineries with a negative refining margin, according to the financial report.
For all of last year, the spread at the Hawaii refinery was a positive $4.08, up from $3.77 in 2010….
Its total yield, or the amount of refined products of gas, jet fuel, diesel fuel and heavy oils, was 72,000 barrels a day last year, up from 65,000 barrels a day in 2010. The plant has a capacity of 94,000 barrels a day.
The refinery has been considered underperforming by Tesoro in recent years.
Two years ago, Tesoro, citing losses from the Hawaii plant, contemplated shutting the refinery down or converting it into a terminal from which to distribute fuel. Then last month the company announced it would seek a buyer, saying the refinery and gas stations aren't aligned with a strategic focus on the mainland.
read … Money Loser
Abandoning Guam Plan? DoD Responds to Kyodo News Report
PNC: The Pentagon responded with a short, but possibly revealing statement to a report by the Kyodo News Service it’s considering shifting 3-thousand of the 8-thousand Marines in Okinawa to Hawaii or elsewhere instead of Guam.
HEAR Matt Kaye's report HERE>>>02-02 dodresponsekyodo.mp3
The Pentagon is saying little about the Kyodo News service report that it’s considering transferring 3-thousand of the 8-thousand Marines slated to go to Guam to other locations, mainly Hawaii, the cite of the Pacific Command and home to some 10-thousand Marines.
Commander Leslie Hullryde heads the Asian-Pacific desk at DoD’s public affairs office and says the Department “remains committed to establishing an operational Marine Corps presence on Guam and enhancing the alliance while significantly reducing the impact of U.S. bases on the Okinawan people.”
Hullyryde would go no further, when asked for an interview independent of her formal written statement, which also said—“We remain committed to the mutual fulfillment of the principles of the 2006 Realignment roadmap and to a military presence in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region that is operationally resilient, geographically distributed and politically sustainable.”
read … Guam?
Marshall Islands' President to Discuss Compact Impact Issues in Hawaii
A presidential delegation from the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is on its way to Hawaii today Wednesday and is expected to meet with Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie in Honolulu to discuss issues relating to Compact Impact.
RMI President Christopher J. Loeak and First Lady Lieom Anono Loeak are accompanied by Minister in Assistance Tony de Brum and presidential staffers.
read … COFA
House Ctte Approves $500 “Backdoor pay raise’ for Teachers
CB: Hawaii’s House Education Committee unanimously passed House Bill 1667 yesterday, which would offer teachers an income tax credit of up to $500 for supplies they purchase out of pocket during the school year.
The proposal cleared its first hurdle despite at least two testimonies against it: One from the Department of Taxation and one from the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, which characterized the bill as “a backdoor pay increase for teachers.”
read … Pay Raise
Mufi $500K, Tulsi $317K
CB: Former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann ended the year with more than $500,000 in the bank, poised to run a tough race for the congressional seat being vacated by Hawaii Rep. Mazie Hirono.
But Honolulu City Council member Tulsi Gabbard also has a respectable $317,000 as of Dec. 31, the latest campaign finance reports filed this week with the Federal Election Commission show.
read … Fundrace
Hawaii House and Senate Hopefuls Can’t File for Office Yet
CB: A spokesman for the state Office of Elections says residents can still pull nomination papers for congressional seats and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
The county election offices are handling papers for their respective county council and mayoral races.
As of this afternoon, just one person had pulled nomination papers for the U.S. Senate seat. A complete listing of candidate filings will be available on Office of Elections website after 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
read … Hawaii House and Senate Hopefuls Can’t File for Office Yet
Now that Abercrombie is Governor, Ledge Suddenly reverses-- Wants Gov To Directly Appoint University of Hawaii Regents
CB: Right now the governor selects Regent nominees from a list of compiled by the Board of Regents Candidate Advisory Council. That process is downright broken though, said Gov. Neil Abercrombie last year after the Senate rejected two of his nominees. Senate Education Chairwoman Jill Tokuda agreed and promised to reform the selection process.
This group of bills is the result of her promise.
read … Ledge Wants Gov To Directly Appoint University of Hawaii Regents
City Councilman Berg: “I am concerned for my safety….”
ILind: In this morning’s email stack was an unsolicited message from City Councilmember Tom Berg, actually a copy of a message addressed to Honolulu Weekly. Subject: BERG AT APEC EVENT.
This email consisted of a rambling series of accusations against the Honolulu Police Department and federal agents based on what Berg says is the “truth” of his experience at APEC. It also includes accusations against the Star-Advertiser and two of its columnists for “patently false” (Berg’s term) reporting.
Reached by phone this afternoon, Berg confirmed he had sent the email.
Berg, in the mail, said: “I am concerned for my safety….”
read … Berg?
Kauai police chief placed on leave during investigation
SA: Perry, a former major with the Honolulu Police Department, was born and raised on Kauai, and became a police officer on the Garden Island before moving to Honolulu. He was the runner-up candidate when K.C. Lum was selected as chief in 2004.
He became chief in 2007, succeeding Lum, who retired in 2006, just days before the Kauai County Council met to rescind his contract. Lum faced allegations of ethics violations and had filed a civil rights complaint against a police commissioner over a racial slur.
In 2003, Chief George Freitas, after battling to save his job for more than two years, announced he would retire, but stopped short of saying he was forced out by Mayor Bryan Baptiste.
Freitas was investigated by the Police Commission for hindering prosecution in a case involving a fellow officer. He was cleared of the charges, but eventually was sued by his secretary for wrongful termination. That case was settled in 2007.
Freitas' predecessor was Calvin Fujita, who resigned in February 1995 after he was the subject of a lawsuit that accused him of favoring certain ethnic groups at the expense of others. The case was dismissed in 2000.
read … Kauai
Honolulu Police chief's performance rated well by commission
SA: Members of the Honolulu Police Commission are giving Police Chief Louis Kealoha a "meets expectations plus" performance grade after his second year as the city's top cop.
The average grade each of the seven commissioners gave Kealoha was 3.8 out of a possible 5. Last year, after Kealoha's first 12 months as chief, the commission gave him an average score of 3 out of 5, what they characterized as "meeting expectations."
Commission Chairman Marc Tilker said he and his colleagues are "exceptionally pleased with Chief Kealoha's performance this year."
read … Honolulu
Self-Defense: Prosecutor explains choice to drop cases
SA: City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro defended his office Wednesday for declining to prosecute two fatal stabbings this week, saying the slayings were acts of self-defense.
"Under the code of professional responsibility, the prosecutor's job is not to seek convictions, but to seek justice," he said. "Our role is not to base our decisions on emotions. … People did die. It's unfortunate it happened, but we still have to base our decisions on the facts and the evidence that we find."
The Prosecutor's Office declined on Sunday to charge a 42-year-old homeless man who stabbed 20-year-old Brycen Iona on Jan. 22 in Waikiki. Kaneshiro said the homeless man was being threatened by three men at the time.
"The law of self-defense indicates that you can use deadly force if you're in imminent danger of someone inflicting deadly or serious bodily injury upon you," Kaneshiro said. "The suspect was in that position. He was justified to use deadly force."
read … Self-Defense
Accused ... Multiple Rapist from NY Busted after Signing up for Welfare in Hawaii
AP: Police said Brantley M. Carroll was located at a Liliuokalani Avenue address and arrested on an extradition warrant.
Police said the New York/New Jersey Fugitive Task Force requested assistance in locating Carroll, who is wanted for eight misdemeanor and nine felony sex offenses, including rape.
Carroll fled to Canada and then China when he became aware that he was being investigated, police said.
Police said checks into his whereabouts revealed that he was receiving benefits in Hawaii.
read … Your Tax Dollars at Work
Occupy Honolulu protestors told to move their stuff
HNN: "We don't really have much of a legal team right now because we don't know a lot of lawyers. We need those University of Hawaii law students you know what I mean," said Baldwin.
"What choice do we have in compliance? We can protest it. That will get us cited if not arrested. (Even the ACLU is sick of Occupy???) What choice do we have to combat this? We don't have any options other than comply," said a man who goes by Patches and claims to be an Occupy supporter but not member. "What political power do we have to fight the city? They do what they want for the most part."
"It's disgraceful actually. It's really disgraceful," said Daniel Cooper, Occupy Honolulu.
"They just proved the point of what Occupy Honolulu has been trying to do for the past couple months here, that the city has no means nor drive to help individuals that are in need of help," said Chris Smith, Occupy Honolulu. "Occupy Honolulu is going to stay. We're not scared, we're not going to run away, we're not going to say ah forget whatever we lost. We're still going to be here. All they're doing is waking up people that they haven't woken up in the way they want. They're pushing people around to the outskirts of town. We'll show up at their doorstep."
The key word could be doorstep. They have some ideas on what they'll do for their next move. Maybe camp out in front of Honolulu Hale or even some councilmember's homes but they haven't made up their minds just yet.
The city crews will return Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m. to remove any of the items that were left behind.
SA: Occupy Honolulu protesters are told to clear their tent site
read … Occupy
State spending $319,000 on freeway planters
KHON: Several years ago the DOT landscaped similar concrete planters by the Kahala area of the H1. While those planters still hold the aechmea blanchetiana plants, they are also filled with weeds.
The DOT had hoped to finish the current beautification project ahead of last November’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, but safety issues caused a delay.
“It was already on the go and we weren't going to just stop it because it didn't make it in time for APEC,” said Meisenzahl.
The DOT spokesman likened the project to another beautification effort along Nimitz Highway, where 163 coconut and Fiji palms were erected ahead of APEC at a cost of $1.3 million.
“It’s basically the same purpose,” said Meisenzahl. “Those planter boxes are something that people within the travel industry approached the Department of Transportation about taking care of, especially leading up to APEC.”
Money for the planter project came from the State Highway Fund, which currently stands at $19.4 million. The DOT hopes to raise the balance of the fund to $50 million in order to address a variety of highway maintenance issues and improvements.
Money for the State Highway fund is generated through fuel taxes, a surcharge on rental cars, vehicle registration fees and vehicle weight taxes.
read … $319,000
Steve Forbes in Hawaii
Forbes Visit. Publisher, business analyst and former Presidential candidate, Steve Forbes, was in Honolulu for a quick visit yesterday. Forbes spoke at the motivational seminar at the Convention Center, and at a special fundraising luncheon for U.S. Senate candidate Linda Lingle. Had the opportunity to have a dinner meeting with Mr. Forbes Monday night, along with Hawaii Reporter's Malia Zimmerman. Forbes is spot on when it comes to business and political evaluation.
read … Forbes
Hawaiian to hire flight attendants for expansion
HNN: Hawaiian Airlines Wednesday announced that it is accepting applications to fill up to 175 new flight attendant positions serving its transpacific and neighbor island routes.
Hawaiian says applications will be accepted until February 14 and must be submitted online to Hawaiian's website for consideration.
Click HERE for a link to the online application.
read … Jobs
Retired federal workers wait for system fix
WP: The Virginia Democrat is not a member of the subcommittee, but he asked to participate in the hearing because his office has been hit with a load of complaints from some of the 130,000 federal retirees that he said live in the state.
“You’ve got some pretty upset folks” in Virginia, Warner told Berry. The senator mentioned a case that his staff was working on before the hearing began, in which “a federal retiree waited 17 months” to get the full annuity due.
Of the plan to get things right in 18 months, Warner said: “I just don’t think that’s acceptable. That should not be the level of service we expect from our government.”
read … Retirement