Hawaii Family Forum Launches Voter Registration Drive
Abercrombie Releases Legislative Wrap-Up Video
Rail Suit Ruling May Contain 'Poison Pill'
Failure to Stop Solar, Wind Tax Credit Scams Cuts State Growth 2.2%
Borreca: Earlier this week, the state Council on Revenues met and predicted that Hawaii would not collect as much tax as previously predicted. The group of independent economists said there is nothing wrong with the economy — it was chugging along nicely — but the state had two problems because of tax law.
First, instead of collecting money, the state is giving people money.
This caused the council to lower rate of growth for the next fiscal year from 7.5 percent to 5.3 percent.
That is about $110 million less than anticipated, which is both bad news and foreshadowing an alarming trend.
Hawaii gives you a tax credit for buying a solar photovoltaic system. Although that seems like a good idea, the operating principle is, "No good deed goes unpunished."
The tax credits are estimated to be costing the state about $70 million a year, and because of the inexact way the tax law is written, taxpayers are becoming tax collectors.
Plain English and the state Tax Department do not rest comfortably with each other, and as soon as the tax credit was proscribed, people started to redefine what defines a photovoltaic solar system. If you get a $5,000 credit for every system, what do you get if you have two systems, or three, or as some businesses are arguing, 400 systems?
Eventually, the Legislature did nothing and the economists now predict the indecision will be costly.
House Speaker Calvin Say agreed, saying the problem is before next year's session and it is likely to be even more expensive.
Next up for tax credits are the huge, expensive wind generators now starting to be built around the state. Say reasons that if the electric panels on neighborhood roofs are costly, just wait till the big guys come in with multimillion-dollar wind turbines asking for 20 percent of the cost to be returned as tax credits.
Full Text: General Fund Forecast - May 29, 2012
related: Why Stop at $500K? DoTAX Quietly Multiplies Hawaii Solar Tax Credit
read … Legislative meddling with tax code hasn't gone well
Two Years of Mindless State Bureaucracy Block Reopening of HMC Hospitals
Q: If your bid was accepted today, how long would it take to get the hospitals functional again?
A: Well, the SHPDA process would probably take about 90 to 120 days, for planning purposes. Then, assuming that came through, you still have facilities renovations to consider, so now you gotta go through the City and County. And in all likelihood, then you’re going to need some kind of variance to the original plan. So the variance will take you maybe three to six months. But you can’t go through the process until you get a certificate of need first (from SHPDA), so you can’t work concurrently. So again, for planning purposes, 18 months to two years. … And, you know, when you’re planning a project of this magnitude, you have to be sure your financing stays put. So you want to be sure you give them the long side of the story.
read … Two Years of Mindless Bureaucracy
After Grabbing Charity Money from Hospitals, DoH Cancels QUEST Cutbacks
SA: The Abercrombie administration announced Thursday that the state will not go through with benefit reductions for adults in QUEST, the state's health plan for the poor, choosing to preserve patient access to a full range of medical services, including unlimited hospital stays.
The state will still tighten income eligibility for adults in QUEST starting in July, which means about 3,500 adults could lose health insurance coverage, but will cancel limits on hospital stays and the elimination of outpatient rehabilitation, optometry services and prosthetics. The administration had announced earlier last month that it would cancel the elimination of coverage for durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and oxygen tanks.
The income eligibility and benefit reductions had been planned to pare $150 million from the $1.8 billion health program, the state's version of Medicaid. The state Department of Human Services said the state would look to save through an estimated decrease in patient actuarial costs for medical services and a continuation of lower reimbursement rates for health care providers.
Missing from Story: Retaliation: As Buyers Consider HMC Purchase, Abercrombie Steals Federal Funds for Care of Poor from Private Hospitals
read … Low-income benefit cuts canceled
Hoku Solar May be Forcibly Sold in Bankruptcy
PBN: Company officials told PBN that if there is a strategic restructuring at Hoku Materials and Hoku Corp., certainly one possible scenario is an eventual change of ownership for Hoku Solar.
“But this is not anyone’s expressed intent, and because so much remains to be determined about the next steps at Hoku Materials and Hoku Corp. our job today is simply to continue creating value for our customers and for Hoku’s stakeholders,” Hoku Solar President Jerrod Schreck told PBN in an email.
…it won’t be long before debtors, shareholders and Nasdaq, among others, force the company to make a decision that will have a direct impact on Hoku Solar’s future.
May 22: Hoku Corp Lays off Workers, Lienholders Move to Seize Polysilicon Plant
read … Hoku Solar faces uncertain future
GasCo Will Begin Importing Natural Gas for Electric Generation
In addition to hiring CH2M HILL, a Denver-based engineering and consulting firm, The Gas Co. officials also said they have begun seeking regulatory approval to bring in the first shipment of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, by the end of this year….
The Gas Co. initially plans to ship the LNG to Hawaii in small amounts, using refrigerated tanks inside 40-foot shipping containers, said Jeff Kissel, president and chief executive officer. The company is aiming to ship larger quantities of the fuel to Hawaii within five years using custom-built LNG tankers sized to fit Hawaii's ports, he said…
The Gas Co. serves 68,000 customers statewide with synthetic natural gas and propane, which are made locally from derivatives of crude oil. The company's commercial customers include restaurants, hotels, manufacturers and laundry companies that use gas mainly for heat energy. These current natural gas customers would be the first to make use of The Gas Co.'s imported natural gas.
Kissel said The Gas Co. would be open to supplying natural gas to Hawaii's two electric utilities — Hawaiian Electric Co. and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative — for power generation. Both utilities use petroleum-based fuel for most of their electricity production. Most oil-fired power generators could be converted to use LNG.
"As a utility we're making the material available to everybody, including KIUC, HECO and independent power producers," Kissel said….
The Gas Co., a subsidiary of Macquarie Infrastructure, is committed to making a "major investment in natural gas infrastructure to bring this low-cost fuel to Hawaii as soon as regulatory and environmental considerations will permit," according to a company press release.
Any investments made by The Gas Co., including a tanker terminal, pipelines and storage facilities, would have to be approved by the state Public Utilities Commission, Kissel said. The Gas Co. would also have to obtain regulatory approval from other state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Transportation.
related: No Natural Gas for Hawaii with Jones Act Ships
read … Gas Tankers
No Decision yet on Thielen Suit
PR: Dante Carpenter, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, said Thursday morning that he may not make an announcement until Friday on whether the party will go to court to block Laura H. Thielen from running for state Senate as a Democrat.
“I don’t have anything to report yet,” he said, adding that he was being “barraged” by different opinions on the subject.
read … No Decision Yet on Thielen Suit
Boylan: The Real Mudslinging is Yet to Come
Question No. 3: “What do you think of the odds that Hawaii voters will elect Linda Lingle to the Senate, and why?”
Long, because Barack Obama will be at top of the ticket. Getting shorter, however, because either Ed Case or Mazie Hirono will emerge from the contested Democratic primary battered and bruised.
Question No. 6. “Do you think we’ll start seeing some real mudslinging closer to the primary?”
Yes, more than you can possibly imagine. If you don’t want to get splattered, you’d best unplug your television sets as soon as you get home tonight.
read … Answering Questions Nobody Asked
Abercrombie Stops Assigning DHHL Leases, Civil Beat Blames Lingle
CB: "No homes have been completed in two of the planned seven subdivisions — east Kapolei on Oahu and Waiohuli on Maui — according to DHHL data. Home construction in others has been slow."
So Abercrombie Administration has yet to finish what Micah Kane started and this is Lingle's fault? Pathetic. What are they doing to help DHHL assignees with their credit and finances so they can get into the homes? I mean besides buying treadmills for DHHL HQ staff.
CB: "DHHL has not awarded any more paper leases since the end of the Lingle administration...."
Abercrombie admin stops TRYING to get Hawaiian Leases awarded... and your article is not about Abercrombie's abandonment of DHHL to the bad old days?
The bottom line is that the Lingle admin awarded more leases than all other administrations combined in the entire history of the Territory and the State. Abercrombie has gone right back to the bad old days. And once again Civil Beat is overcome by its agenda. How dull and predictable. Who could possibly be fooled by this?
read … Back to the Bad old Days
Kenoi Continues to Loot Pension Funds
HTH: Anticipating a veto from Mayor Billy Kenoi and not enough votes to override it, Council Chairman Dominic Yagong on Thursday backed off his plan to amend the annual budget to put payments into the county’s retiree benefits account.
Instead, Yagong plans to introduce a bill Wednesday that will make payments to the fund automatic if the administration doesn’t budget for it and the county has money left over at year’s end.
The $365.1 million spending plan was approved 8-1 with only minor amendments. Yagong voted no, saying later, “a deferred budget is not a balanced budget….
Yagong told reporters outside the meeting he and his staff had crafted several pages of amendments but decided it wasn’t worth the effort because the mayor would likely veto the amended budget anyway.
“He would absolutely veto the budget. I know it,” Yagong said. “He has four votes locked in.”
Kenoi last year did veto the council budget, and the council majority didn’t have the six votes needed to override a veto. The same four no votes, from Hilo Councilmen Donald Ikeda, Dennis Onishi and J Yoshimoto and Puna Councilman Fred Blas, were likely this year as well had the budget been amended to account for GASB 45.
read … Looting the Future
Bus Cuts for Rail Begin Sunday
KITV: Oahu Transit Services released changes to TheBus routes that take effect Sunday, June 3. All changes will be monitored and subject to modifications.
read … TheBus route changes starting this Sunday
Tourism at Beginning of Five Year Growth Cycle?
SA: Hawaii set an April record for visitor arrivals and spending, pumping $1.17 billion into the state's economy last month, according to statistics released Thursday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Total visitor spending last month climbed 26.8 percent, or $246.5 million more than April 2011, as more visitors came to Hawaii and spent more each day.
Daily spending by visitors in April rose 10.4 percent to $194 per person. In this category, food and beverage spending grew 10.4 percent, shopping 9.9 percent and lodging 6 percent, said Daniel Nahoopii, HTA director of tourism research.
While spending from Hawaii's core U.S. West market was up, more than half of the April spending gain came from Oceania and other Asia, which includes China, Korea and Taiwan, Nahoopii said.
The increase in overall visitors also contributed to spending gains, he said. Visitor arrivals in April increased 11.3 percent to 647,194, beating the previous April record set in 2006 when 618,230 tourists came. A 3.1 percent rise in air seats over last April contributed to the arrivals growth.
"Hawaii's visitor industry tends to follow a five-year cycle, and it looks like we are nine months or so into the positive," said Jerry Westenhaver, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa. "Barring any negative events, I'd say we have another four years or so of growth to go."
read … Growth
Obama Puts Palin Appointee on 9th Circuit
The 9th Circuit swore in its first Alaskan woman as a judge Wednesday with the induction of Judge Morgan Brenda Christen.
Christen, 50, fills a vacancy Judge Andrew Kleinfeld created by taking seniority status in 2010.
Prior to this appointment, Christen served as a justice on the Alaska Supreme Court since 2009.
She had been appointed to the position by then-Gov. Sarah Palin, despite opposition from pro-life advocacy groups. The Juneau Empire reported that Christen served on a Planned Parenthood board in the 1990s, but the organization did not begin performing abortions in Alaska until 2003.
read … Abortion
Caldwell Publishes Roadmap to Future
HR: He distributed copies of a campaign brochure, “A Roadmap For Our Future” to supporters and onlookers at City Hall.
read … Rail Road Map
Judge OKs seal on videos of killing by agent
SA: Surveillance videos and a federal agent's version of a fatal shooting in Waikiki last year must be kept confidential to avoid tainting prospective jurors and witnesses, a state judge ruled Thursday.
Circuit Judge Karen Ahn granted a request by city prosecutors to seal the videos and documents filed by State Department special agent Christopher Deedy, who is charged with murder in the shooting.
Ahn ruled the filings by Deedy's lawyers will be kept private until at least a July 13 hearing on a defense request to dismiss his murder charge.
read … Hidden Truths
Honolulu Gay Parade to feature its first gay military color guard
SA: For the first time in the history of the Honolulu Pride Parade, a gay military color guard will lead the procession through the streets of Waikiki now that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy has been repealed.
Active-duty service members who are also part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community will march Saturday, carrying the flags of the different branches of service.
"Uniforms are out," said Jeffry Priela-Tam, a community liaison for OutServe Hawaii. "They'll probably wear gray shirts with the name of their service. … With change you have to be careful and take things slowly."
"We have a lot to celebrate," said convicted thief Michael Golojuch Jr., chairman of Honolulu Pride.
read … Feminizing the Military
Hawaii Has Access to State Procurement Regs
CB: Yes, the public may access public procurement regulations. The procurement law creates an obligation on the chief procurement office to make the rules available to the public.
Sources: Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 103D Hawaii Public Procurement Code, Part II. Procurement Organization, §103D-206 Additional duties of the administrator of the procurement office. Visit http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol02_Ch0046-0115/HRS0103D/HRS_0103D-0206.htm for details.
There are requirement for the posting of awards, according to Ruth Yamaguchi with the State Procurement Office. The awards are posted on the State Procurement Office's website at (http://hawaii.gov/spo2/).
Sources: Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 103D Hawaii Public Procurement Code, Part VII. Legal and Contractual Remedies, §103D-701 Authority to resolve protested solicitations and awards. Visit http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol02_Ch0046-0115/HRS0103D/HRS_0103D-0701.htm for details.
Also see Procurement Circulars, Procurement Notices System. Visit http://hawaii.gov/spo2011/spo/circulars/circulars/2003-04-amendment-1/getfile?filename=pc2003-04am1.pdf for details. Updated Procurement Circular No. 2010-01. Visit http://hawaii.gov/spo2011/spo/circulars/circulars/2010-01/getfile?filename=2010-01.pdf for details.
To access the public procurement regulations visit (http://hawaii.gov/spo/statutes-and-rules) for details.
read … Procurement
Ingested radiation no worse than any other type of toxin
SA: Concerns about radiation from Fukushima are real but overstated and sensationalized.
Populations exposed to radiation doses above 100 millisieverts have a higher risk of contracting cancers of all kinds, according to the World Health Organization. The average annual dose from natural background radiation is about 2.4 millisieverts globally, with a range of 1-10 millisieverts.
Although one small area close to the power plant may have received more than 100 millisieverts, in the rest of Fukushima prefecture, WHO estimated the dose to be within the range of 1-10 millisieverts, while effective doses in most of Japan were put at just 0.1-1 millisievert.
In the rest of the world — including neighboring Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, far eastern parts of Russia and Southeast Asia — doses were 0.01 millisievert or less, about as much as half a chest X-ray.
read … A moment of Sanity
SA: Keep memorials under control
SA: As in many parts of the world, roadside memorials in Hawaii are erected to honor victims of traffic crashes or tragedies. A bill to create rules and a permitting process to govern the markers, usually a cross or small monument with flowers, has been proposed in the City Council. But rather than go overboard in a misguided attempt to legislate grief, the city instead should use common sense in adopting a policy that acknowledges the need to keep public ways safe and clear while being mindful of survivors' sensitivities.
read … Keep memorials under control
After 20 Years, Maui Short-Term Rental Law Passed
MD: A bill was signed into law last week that establishes new regulations for short-term rentals, also known as transient vacation rentals, in Maui County. Short-term rentals have long been contended on Molokai — with few accommodations for visitors, many homeowners rent their houses on a short-term basis, even though county law has prohibited the practice in the past.
The new law was approved by the Maui County Council and signed by Mayor Alan Arakawa last week. Homeowners will still need to submit applications for a permit to operate a short-term rental, but the law establishes ground rules designed to protect neighboring residents from noise.
Arakawa said the bill was “a long time coming,” adding that it has “been in the works for about 15 or 20 years now.”
“This legislation should protect our residents from noisy rental operations while at the same time allowing legitimate rentals a way to conduct their business,” said Arakawa.
read … Contended Short-Term Rental Law Passed
Boy slain on Valley Isle Returned to Abusive Parents by state, tutu says
SA: The grandmother of a 4-year-old Maui boy who died Wednesday of apparent abuse injuries said the state failed to protect her grandson by giving him back to an allegedly abusive parent after it had taken custody of the boy when he was severely injured at 6 months old.
"I want Child Welfare Services to admit that they were wrong in giving this child back to his parents," said Maryann Rooney of Waipio, the boy's maternal grandmother. "They had a case 3 1⁄2 years ago, and they dropped the ball on it and he's dead. I just want him to have some justice, to feel like somebody did something for him."
Rooney said she called Child Welfare Services about a year ago to report that her grandson, Zion McKeown, should not be in his parent's care, but she was told she couldn't do anything because she didn't see any abuse. Zion was last living in Wailuku with his father, Kyle McKeown, the former boyfriend of Rooney's daughter.
Maui police said Kyle McKeown took his son to Maui Memorial Medical Center at 10:57 p.m. Tuesday, saying the boy was found unresponsive in the shower of their Vineyard Street home.
Emergency room doctors found the boy had severe blunt force trauma to his internal organs and called police, police said.
Both Zion McKeown's father and his father's girlfriend denied having any knowledge of how Zion was injured.
read … Abuse
‘Napalm girl’ photo turns 40
AP: She worked hard and was accepted into medical school to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. But all that ended once the new communist leaders realized the propaganda value of the ‘napalm girl’ in the photo.
She was forced to quit college and return to her home province, where she was trotted out to meet foreign journalists. The visits were monitored and controlled, her words scripted. She smiled and played her role, but the rage inside began to build and consume her.
“I wanted to escape that picture,” she said. “I got burned by napalm, and I became a victim of war … but growing up then, I became another kind of victim.”
She turned to Cao Dai, her Vietnamese religion, for answers. But they didn’t come.
“My heart was exactly like a black coffee cup,” she said. “I wished I died in that attack with my cousin, with my south Vietnamese soldiers. I wish I died at that time so I won’t suffer like that anymore … it was so hard for me to carry all that burden with that hatred, with that anger and bitterness.”
One day, while visiting a library, Phuc found a Bible. For the first time, she started believing her life had a plan.
Then suddenly, once again, the photo that had given her unwanted fame brought opportunity.
She traveled to West Germany in 1982 for medical care with the help of a foreign journalist. Later, Vietnam’s prime minister, also touched by her story, made arrangements for her to study in Cuba.
She was finally free from the minders and reporters hounding her at home, but her life was far from normal. Ut, then working at the AP in Los Angeles, traveled to meet her in 1989, but they never had a moment alone. There was no way for him to know she desperately wanted his help again….
While at school, Phuc met a young Vietnamese man. She had never believed anyone would ever want her because of the ugly patchwork of scars that banded across her back and pitted her arm, but Bui Huy Toan seemed to love her more because of them.
The two decided to marry in 1992 and honeymoon in Moscow. On the flight back to Cuba, the newlyweds defected during a refueling stop in Canada. She was free.
read … Finally Free