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Friday, February 15, 2013
February 15, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:47 PM :: 5414 Views

KOS: Hanabusa Underperformed Obama the Most for any Incumbent in USA

Gallup: 5% of Hawaii Residents Gay

UHERO: Weakening Japanese Yen Will Cap Tourism Growth

State Launches New Teen-Focused Obesity Prevention Campaign

OIP: "Obvious Problems" with UIPA Records

Recall: Organic Spinach Sold in Hawaii Tainted with Hemorrhagic E Coli 

“Damned Sellout” Mililani Trask Defends PLDC 

SA: There was a time when the name Mililani Trask brought to mind phrases such as "native sovereignty" and "Hawaiian activist." If anything, the term "development" was on top of the "don't" list for Mililani and her sister, Haunani-Kay Trask, an equally well known University of Hawaii professor.

So it's surprised many to see that the longtime Hawaiian rights advocate and attorney is championing the controversial Public Land Development Corp. (PLDC), a legislative creation now fighting for its life in the Legislature.

The benefit of such an agency, which would shorten the process of reviews for projects undertaken on many state-owned parcels, is that the general population would at last reap significant benefits from the developments, Trask said, rather than the modest revenue stream from private entities leasing public land.

These days, Trask principally works as a consultant for Innovations Development Group, which describes itself as a "majority-owned Native Hawaiian company" engaged in "developing energy resources in ways that preserve vital cultural traditions." IDG is most intensively involved now in the recent request for proposals on a Hawaii island geothermal project….

"I think there has been a major shift in the Hawaiian community because they see now that we own the resources," she said…. (This is all about OHA owning Wao Kele O Puna.)

Q: Has the energy issue put you at odds with other Hawaiians?

A: Oh, many. Many, many. I still see people at hearings and they say, "You're a damned sellout…."

read … Looking for a Geothermal Cash in on Protests

SB215 Creates “Public-Private Partnership Authority” to Replace PLDC

PR: The state Senate Economic Development, Government Operations and Housing Committee on Wednesday voted to advance a bill that would create a new Public-Private Partnership Authority.

The authority — a similar concept to the Public Land Development Corp. — would work with other state agencies and the private sector on development projects. The new authority, unlike the PLDC, would not have broad exemptions from land use regulations.

The new authority would first do a main street redevelopment project in Wahiawa and a film production studio on Maui as pilot projects.

The bill would also preserve the stadium authority special fund, a potential resource for redeveloping the parking lot at Aloha Stadium. The special fund is in danger if lawmakers repeal the PLDC because the fund was folded into the PLDC law.

“Hopefully, this helps us in the long run,” said Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, the committee’s chairman, who was also behind the PLDC.

The committee voted 3 to 2 to move the bill. Sen. Laura Thielen, a PLDC critic, voted against the bill, as did Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom, who routinely votes against legislation that contains special funds.

read … Do they think we are stupid?  Yes, they do.

Hawaii House votes to repeal public land agency

AP: Members of the state House of Representatives unanimously voted Thursday to repeal Hawaii's controversial state land development agency.

The full House vote came four days after House committees approved the bill to repeal the Public Land Development Corp. The bill now goes to the Senate.

CB: House Speaker On The PLDC: 'It Was A Mistake'

SA: House voids PLDC, Senate likely to do same

read … B-Bye PLDC 

Banner Health getting closer to a deal with state hospitals

PBN: Hawaii lawmakers have introduced House Bills 1483 and 1484, which call for restructuring of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., and Senate Bill 1267, which would allow Banner Health to assume control of the facilities.

But that doesn’t mean everyone is on board.

“We are concerned about what this means for health care in Hawaii,” said Randy Perreira, executive director of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, which represents employees at the state hospitals. “We would have concerns about the employment status of 4,000 employees [in the HHSC].”

The HGEA also worries that Banner Health may shut down some facilities, and that it will not invest in those hospitals without matching funds from the state of Hawaii.

Chumbley said Banner Health would not be authorized to close any of the hospitals, and the two parties would have to agree on how to share the costs of improving facilities and adding technology. They also would have to agree on what improvements are needed and what technology should be added.

The next step will be for Hawaii Health Systems Corp. and Banner Health to create a memorandum of understanding to serve as a road map on how this transfer of management and operations would occur. From there, a letter of intent would be crafted for Banner Health to take over the hospitals before an agreement can be reached.

Reality: “In at least one private meeting, HGEA officials desperate to continue collecting dues from HHSC employees have suggested it would be preferable to close Kona Hospital than to take HHSC out of the civil service system.”

HTH: Hospital privatization bill advances

MN: Panel endorses privatization for public hospitals

read … Still Time to Screw it Up

HB1027: Bill Aims To Prevent Candidates From 'Helping' Voters Fill Out Ballots

CB: Absentee voting is gaining in popularity, so much so that Hawaii's governor has proposed all mail-in voting.

The Legislature is considering the governor's idea.

With the increased preference for filling out ballots at home or the workplace, however, the potential for voter fraud and voter intimidation could also grow.

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee passed House Bill 1027, which seeks to protect the integrity of absentee balloting

The legislation would require absentee voters to affirm by signature that the ballot was completed in secrecy and without influence from others — namely, their employer, unions and political candidates. It also requires absentee ballots to include information about election and voter fraud.

The measure, which was amended and now heads to House Finance, received testimony mostly in support, including from the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney's Office, the Honolulu City Clerk, the League of Women Voters of Hawaii and Common Cause Hawaii.

Some are already calling it The Romy Cachola Bill.

Related: PEW: Vote-by-Mail Favors Old White Democrats

read … Bill Aims To Prevent Candidates From 'Helping' Voters Fill Out Ballots

Abercrombie Uses $275K in State Money to Push Soda Tax Hike

SA: Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the state Department of Health launched a multimedia campaign Thursday to steer teenagers away from soda and other sugary drinks and toward healthier choices such as water. The $275,000 "Rethink Your Drink" campaign, funded by the state's share of tobacco settlement money, will run through May and include television, radio, print and movie theater ads.

The Abercrombie administration has called on state lawmakers to approve a new soda fee of 1 cent per ounce that would generate about $37 million a year for obesity and chronic disease prevention programs. The fee could reduce consumption by 8 percent to 10 percent, according to the state, while the ad campaign is meant to help counter marketing by the beverage industry that targets teenagers.

Best Comment: Why is "tobacco settlement money" being used to finance the Governor's propaganda machine in an obviously politically inspired pro-tax campaign?

read … Taxing You to Pay for Tax Hike Campaign

SB120: “Could Lead to Rate Hikes”

WHT: State lawmakers want to expand the Public Utility Commission’s scope to allow incentives for electric utilities to reduce costs and integrate renewable energy resources.

If made law, Senate Bill 120, introduced by urban Honolulu Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, would authorize the PUC, the state’s lone utility regulator, to implement economic incentives and cost recovery regulatory mechanisms to induce electric utilities to reduce costs; increase renewable energy and grid modernization; and speed up retirement of fossil fuel generators.

The bill passed the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee with a 7-0 vote, but was sent back to the committee for consideration after several amendments were made during a Feb. 6 public hearing.

The committee again passed the bill on a 6-0 vote on Wednesday. One senator was excused. A referral had yet to be submitted as of press time….

Jeffrey T. Ono, executive director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Division of Consumer Advocacy, testified in support of the legislation’s intent but also noted a caveat concerning financial incentives for electric utilities.

He said such proposals could lead to hikes for ratepayers, “which the customers can ill afford at this time.” Rather than law, Ono suggested the state Legislature consider adopting the provisions in the form of a resolution, rather than making the incentives required by statute.

read … Could Lead to Rate Hikes

 

HB506: Reneges on Every Building Contract in the State

CB: Under the current contracts, the state is paying school bus companies’ general excise taxes. The auditor singled this issue out in a scathing report last year, and House Bill 506 was introduced as a result.

The legislation, which cleared the House Finance Committee Thursday, would prohibit the state from paying contractors’ GET.

While school bus contractors have remained mum on the matter, a group representing the construction industry is urging lawmakers to reject the bill.

“While the preamble of this bill seems to suggest that this bill is a remedy for the problems with the contracts for school bus services we are concerned that the consequences of this bill will have far reaching effects that will harm all businesses that do business with State government in particular the construction industry,” Malcolm Barcarse Jr. of Associated Builders and Contractors said in his testimony. “It is the common practice in the marketplace for customers of all varieties including the State of Hawaii in government contracting to pay the appropriate General Excise Tax on the contract.”

read … Bill To Fix School Bus Program Has Hawaii Builders Concerned

Mainland Gays: It’s Not Over in the Aloha State

HRB: This week, the Hawaii State Legislature reached a key legislative deadline in the 2013 session – scheduling a hearing for all bills referred to two committees. HB1109, the marriage equality bill, did not clear this procedural hurdle; as a result, although there are several procedural mechanisms by which the Legislature could move the bill this year, the more likely outcome is that marriage equality will be placed on hold for the remainder of 2013.

It’s not over.

The bill remains “alive” through 2014. We join Hawaii United for Marriage in encouraging supportive legislators to take affirmative steps to advance marriage equality now and to set the stage for action.

CB: Transsexual Democrats—How Dare Legislators Defy us!

read … Not Over

SA: Reject HB399,  Leave sex ed to DOE control

SA: Sex education can be a challenging issue for policy makers deciding what to teach, when to teach it and to whom. Parents and guardians want to have a say in the matter, too, along with the professional educators.

It's unclear, then, why the Legislature finds it necessary to introduce House Bill 399, which would mandate a more "comprehensive approach" to instruction on issues ranging from sexuality, contraception and relationships.

The measure attempts to fix some things that seemingly aren't broken and essentially intrudes on a concern that should be left within the Department of Education's purview.

This is not to say that sex education within Hawaii public schools can't be improved. But based on the testimony, the principal problem seems to be uneven instructional practice from school to school.

In that case, it's really the Board of Education, the governing body overseeing public education, that should steer the schools toward greater consistency….

HB 399, which on Wednesday passed the House Committee on Education, may not be the best instrument for change.

Before members of the full House take a vote, they should note the opposition raised by state schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

"This bill attempts to legislate curriculum content that is better left to the Department and Board of Education to determine within their constitutional authority to formulate statewide educational policy," she said, hitting precisely the right point.

read … Leave sex ed to DOE control

Broken Trust Figure Rockne Freitas nominated to be UH West Oahu chancellor

SA: The announcement today was met with praise from legislators….

Freitas … is UH vice president for student affairs and university relations.

Freitas also served as chancellor of Hawaii Community College and, more recently, was acting athletic director from July 13 to Jan. 13 before Ben Jay assumed the position.

The BOR will consider whether to appoint Frietas for three years, starting May 1.

If approved, he will be paid $238,008 a year.

Awakuni’s salary was $211,000.

2010: Greenwood Mafia grabs two power positions in UH system

2012: Senate Accountability for Everybody Except Rockne Freitas

read … Another Plum Job

Hawaii House passes watered-down shield law

AP: Hawaii's current shield law protects journalists from disclosing their sources or unpublished notes with few exceptions. One exception is when there is strong evidence the information is necessary to investigate or try felony or defamation cases.

The proposal that passed the House Thursday expands the exceptions to potential felonies, serious violent crimes or any civil case.

Rep. Gene Ward says the bill was originally written to simply extend the shield law and the amendments strip important protections for journalists.

The state Senate will consider the bill next.

read … Watered Down

Legislators Suck Up to Celebs

Borreca: Sen. Clayton Hee, Judiciary Committee chairman, amended the bill Friday so that public figures would have the right to sue only in cases involving property they own or lease.

Nothing would stop the offending paparazzi from snapping away at public places, such as beaches or at private facilities such as hotels.

But the Senate was not finished with its kowtowing to the rich and famous.

After testifying in public, Tyler was invited into the Senate Democratic caucus room for another briefing, which amounted to picture-taking, autograph-signing and general sucking-up.

Then to put the fawning on public display, the Senate invited Tyler to ascend to the chamber podium and address the assembled Hawaii Senate, which he did.

He said he needed his privacy.

If the bill clears the Senate, which appears likely, the bill goes to the House and another round of fawning.

When the 76 lawmakers bring down the curtain on the 2013 edition of this Legislature with speeches regretting they did not have the time to handle problems of the poor, homeless, overtaxed, under-represented and uneducated, we should remember at least that Steven Tyler, Tommy Lee of Motley Crue, Mick Fleetwood, Margaret Cho, Ozzy Osbourne, Britney Spears, Neil Diamond and folks from Guns N' Roses and Quiet Riot simply asked for action and got it.

read … Suckups

Hawaii lawmakers explore more tax breaks for films

AP: Sen. David Ige introduced the proposal, which extends and increases tax credits for the film industry.

The arts committee approved an amended version of the bill Thursday. The Senate economic development committee approved the bill previously.

Ige says the high cost of shooting films in Hawaii deters moviemakers from coming.

He says tax incentives could help filmmaking grow to be a billion dollar industry in the state.

Opponents of the bill say Hawaii's uniqueness is enough incentive to attract filmmakers.

read … More Giveaways to Millionaires and Billionaires

Obama Early Education Scheme Echoes Abercrombie

CB: President Barack Obama’s push this week for universal early education could breathe new life into Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s mission to provide a state-funded preschool program for all Hawaii’s 4-year-olds.

But local proponents say they’re not getting ahead of themselves.

“We’re starting from scratch,” emphasized state Rep. Roy Takumi, who’s rallied behind the Hawaii initiative.

Obama hasn't announced how much money he plans to give to individual states. Whether his program would give the state’s initiative much of a financial boost remains to be seen, Takumi said.

The president in his State of the Union address Tuesday called on Congress to make high-quality preschool available to every child in the country.

Reality: Abercrombie 'School Readiness' Plan Based on Proven Failure?

read … Hawaii Governor's Preschool Program Gets a Boost from Obama

KHON: Security breaches by public agencies

  • We found Eulalia Jara's absentee ballot application snafu on the Big Island.
  • A court dispute led to some former DLNR-SHPD staff files found in the possession of a plaintiff.
  • Two Hawaiian Home Lands alerts also had info slips through legal files.
  • A Health case worker misplaced a whole file cabinet during a move.
  • Inmates' Social Security numbers were faxed out when Public Safety was saving paper by reusing the back of old documents.
  • The state's Human Resources Department had not one but 2 medical records breaches when workers comp doctors' offices were burglarized.
  • As for cybserspace, the Department of Transportation left three people's payroll documents on the DOT Library database.
  • The Judiciary submitted 138 bar applicants' files to national examiners, and accidentally also to the Westlaw and LexisNexis legal reading databases.
  • DAGS and DLNR put some Social Security numbers up on a website.
  • The University of Hawaii takes the cake with five security breaches across 4 campuses affecting tens of thousands.

read … Careless

Feds Bust Alleged Online Bookie, Lawyer Hints at Release of Client List

HNN: An attorney who represents several of those targeted said her clients had always believed that online betting was legal.

"This is something that people in Hawaii have been doing in Hawaii for a very long time .. forever. It includes business people, doctors, law enforcement, sales people, all kinds of people," said lawyer Megan Kau. (Hint, hint….)

"Nobody would have guessed that it would come to something like this."

One of the first to be charged is Honolulu resident Terrence Ching. Ching pleaded guilty today to one count of making illegal bets and one count of filing a false tax return.

Prosecutors say Ching handled millions of dollars in online bets by acting as a go-between -- or bookie -- of Internet gaming sites based in Costa Rica.

His case provides a rare glimpse into the amount of money the business involves.

According to a criminal complaint, federal authorities seized nearly $30,000 in cash from Ching's bank account and another $330,000 that he stashed in his home.

They also seized an assortment of semi-automatic handguns and rifles, designer gold and diamond jewelry and at least five Rolex watches and confiscated $245,000 in monetary judgements -- or markers -- representing his gambling wins.

read … Feds Crack Down

Eco-Faddist Caught in Lie -- Claims She Isn’t Trying to Destroy Fishing Industry

CB: First, protecting monk seals’ critical habitat will not limit public access to areas. It’s a legal designation that acts as a planning tool requiring careful review of federally funded or permitted projects to determine whether the activity will destroy or adversely modify monk seal habitat; if so, then the project must be modified to reduce its impact.

Unless you’re planning to undertake a federally funded or permitted project on the coast or in the ocean, critical habitat will not affect you. (A LIE!) You and your `ohana can still go to the beach, fish, gather, swim, surf, snorkel, dive, boat, and do all of the things you enjoy doing there now. And Hawaiian monk seals, with just 1,000 or so left in the wild, will get an extra layer of protection too.

Best Comment: Unfortunately, designation of critical habitat does NOT guarantee that only those projects asking for federal funding will be affected. The Endangered Species Act compels Federal Agencies such as NOAA to institute protections for the animals, and these protections may change rights of access or use of resources. In Alaska, NOAA designated critical habitat for the Steller's Sea Lion, also indicating that only federally-funded projects would be affected. However, in the interest of the animals under protection, NOAA instituted closures of commercial, recreational and subsistence fishing. The State of Alaska tried to intervene for the people, but found that their recourse lay in taking NOAA to court.

read … We Can Save Corals and Monk Seals and Have A Fishery, Too

2 bills would rid sidewalks of tents

SA: The ACLU opposes the City Council's aim to remove items from public areas ….

Bill 6 (2013) aims to ban tents from public sidewalks and malls without a permit and could lead to arrest and the seizure of tents and other items. Bill 7 (2013) would prohibit not just tents, but also other objects "deemed to be public nuisances, hazardous to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the city."

Bill 7 would allow the city to remove the items immediately, without the need to give 24-hour notice as required under the current "stored property" law that officials have been using to clear sidewalks.

Councilman Ikaika Anderson, who introduced Bill 6 and co-introduced Bill 7 with Council Chairman Ernie Martin and Councilwoman Ann Koba­ya­shi, said the bills are designed to make public sidewalks accessible and unimpeded for everyone.

Reality: Defeating the "homelessness industry" before it gets a grip on Hawaii

read … Force them into Shelters

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