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Thursday, April 04, 2013
April 4, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:04 PM :: 5107 Views

From Hawaii to Virginia, are College Accreditors Overstepping their Authority?

Full Text: Hawaii Senate Republican Budget Proposal

House Judiciary Kills Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

UH: College of Education programs align with national findings

15th Anniversary Aloha Pregnancy Center

DOE to request waiver for School Improvement Grant funds

Stimulus Japan Style: Cost of Hawaii Vacation Jumps 3% Today

Lingle Joins US Energy Security Council

Bed Making Contest: Clayton Hee vs Jessica Wooley

Feds Investigate Caldwell Admin Official

HNN: Hawaii News Now has learned that federal authorities are investigating the possible misuse of union assets by former Hawaii Painters Union officials.

Sources say investigators with the U.S. Labor Department and the IRS are looking into allegations of personal use of cars and trucks and other perks.

Filings with the Labor Department show that the Painters Union District 50 spent more $200,000 in recent years to buy at least 10 SUVs for staffers' use.

The alleged misuse of vehicles occurred under the watch of Lynn Kinney, the union's longtime business manager, who retired from his $281,000-a-year job in December.

The union said the 62-year-old Kinney stepped down because he wanted to (insert excuse here).

In recent years, the union sold off the cars, resulting in a loss of about $117,000.

The perks are on top of a salary scale that's the highest in Hawaii labor circles.

According to its annual filings with the Labor Department, 10 of the union's staffers earned more than $100,000, which is double what the average painter in Hawaii earns. The filings also show that the union paid one of its administrative aides over $97,000….

The filings also show that Kinney's son Nathaniel was the union's second highest paid executive at $151,000. He has since left the union to become an executive assistant with Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell….

Another Winner: Caldwell Secretly Appoints ‘Chief of Staff’--Convicted Criminal Harry Mattson

read … Feds probe local union

Schatz: No Comment on Jones Act Resos

SA: "They're very interested in what we've been able to accomplish through the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative," Schatz said. "What that means is we will continue to have the commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Department of Defense. It also means that we are becoming known nationally and internationally as a clean energy test bed," Schatz said from his office on the seventh floor of the Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Federal Building with a panoramic view of Oahu's South Shore stretching from Diamond Head to Aloha Tower. (‘Panoramic View’ Translation: The Star Adv wants Hanabusa to run against Abercrombie, not Schatz.)

Schatz declined to comment on a resolution introduced by state lawmakers in Hawaii calling for Congress to create a narrow exemption from the Jones Act that would allow foreign-built ships to carry cargo directly from the mainland to Hawaii. The 1920 law, designed to support the U.S. shipbuilding industry, is cited by opponents as one of the reasons for high shipping costs in the U.S.

"Just to be clear, I'm a supporter of the Jones Act. I think it's important to have control over our shipping infrastructure nationwide both for national security reasons and for reasons related to keeping labor and environmental standards high," Schatz said. "And particularly for Hawaii, it's critical that we have reliable shipping, and that's got to come from within the United States."

read … Inouye projects supported, Schatz says

Clayton Hee Guts Reporters’ Shield Law

AP: "It is an outrage," said Jeff Portnoy, an attorney for the Hawaii Shield Law Coalition which represents 16 media organizations including the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and The Associated Press. "After all the work we did five years ago, this is a complete gutting."

Hee amended the bill to cut out protections for non-traditional journalists such as bloggers, an amendment proposed by the state attorney general.

The bill's new definitions also remove protections for online media, including local investigative reporting sites such as Honolulu Civil Beat and the Hawaii Reporter.

Critics say the changes take Hawaii back to the 20th century.

The definitions also cut protections for magazines and newspapers that have published for less than one year.

CB: Shield Law Bill 'Worthless' After Senate Committee Amendments

read … Hawaii senators restrict scope of shield law

Sen Hee Kills Anti-Gambling resolution

KITV: Gaming machines may be sticking around at Hawaii businesses after the state Senate Judiciary Committee killed a gambling resolution Wednesday.

The bill would have outlawed sweepstakes arcades by making it illegal to sell goods or services that allow people to gamble.

But that means the bill would have also outlawed many promotional contests, such as those at supermarkets and fast-food restaurants.

"If any one of these bills were to have been passed this year, as of July 1, we would have definitely closed our business down," said Tracy Yoshimura, owner of PJY Enterprises.

Senate Judiciary chair Clayton Hee said the resolution could come up again next year (or not).

read … Gambling

Caldwell Lets Put Homeless in Chinatown, Waikiki and Tent City 

SA: Administration officials have stated they will come up with a comprehensive plan to address homelessness by May 1, Caldwell reiterated. But the plan will likely include "a housing-first model that's not so much in one, very large building but may be scattered-throughout rentals in our urban communities … like Waikiki and Chinatown."

One possibility, however, may involve remnant parcels temporarily used "in a tent-type of program."

(The purpose is to keep the homeless on full display so the maximum amount of $$$ can be extracted.)

Reality: Homeless tent cities: Seattle’s decade-long nightmare coming to Honolulu?

read … Three Worst Possible Ideas

Honolulu 3rd Worst Traffic

SA: Navigation device maker TomTom found Honolulu to be the third-most traffic-congested city in North America, in its 2012 Congestion Index, released today.

Los Angeles tops the list with travel times 33 percent longer than when traffic is flowing freely. Vancouver, Canada, is No. 2 with a 32 percent congestion rate, and Honolulu is third with a 30 percent congestion rate. Link: http://www.tomtom.com/en_gb/congestionindex/

read … TomTom

State wants to charge homeowners who use cesspools, septic tanks 

KHON: "Pretty soon they're gonna put a meter on your toilet and every time you press that button it's gonna register down at the Department of Health and they're gonna send you a bill."

read … Toilet tax

Schoolteachers' tax credit OK'd

SA: The committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 573, but the amount of the credit will need to be negotiated in conference committee between House and Senate lawmakers.

Previous versions have included credits of up to $250 or up to $500 per year, but both the House Education and Finance committees chose to leave the amount of the proposed credit unspecified.

At the $250 level, the credit would cost the state about $3.5 million a year in lost tax revenue, the state Department of Taxation estimated.

State Tax Director Fred Pablo testified that a $250 federal tax deduction already exists for elementary and secondary school teachers. He said nothing would "prevent a taxpayer from claiming both a deduction and the credit for the same expenses," resulting in "duplicate tax benefits."

read … Pay Hike

S Korea: North Korea moved missile to east coast

AP: North Korea has moved a missile with "considerable range" to its east coast, South Korea's defense minister said Thursday, but he added that there are no signs that Pyongyang is preparing for a full-scale conflict.

The report came hours after North Korea's military warned that it has been authorized to attack the U.S. using "smaller, lighter and diversified" nuclear weapons. It was the North's latest war cry against America in recent weeks. The reference to smaller weapons could be a claim that Pyongyang has improved its nuclear technology. Or a bluff.

South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said he did not know the reasons behind the North's missile movement, and that it "could be for testing or drills."

He dismissed reports in Japanese media that the missile could be a KN-08, which is believed to be a long-range missile that if operable could hit the United States.

KJ: Beijing rejects North’s envoy request

read … Launchpad for Missiles Aimed at Japan, Hawaii

Waihee-Harris Associate Runs Winning Mayoral Campaign in N Las Vegas

LVRJ: North Las Vegas Mayor-elect John Lee, right, celebrates defeating incumbent Shari Buck during an election night party at his North Las Vegas home Tuesday. At left is supporter Bob Fishman.  (Bob Fishman was Harris' Managing Director, Waihee's Chief of Staff and former HTA President.  He failed in a council run vs Charles Djou.)

read … N Las Vegas

Who’s Behind Anti-GMO Movement?

HR: It's important to know who are these activists behind this war against democracy and biotech.

First among them are unethical organic marketers, locally and nationally, who have been disparaging conventional farm products for decades and, now biotech products.

Why? Because purveyors of organic foods have nothing unique to offer their customers except higher prices and slightly elevated risks of biological contamination.

Right behind them are anti-humanist groups, both local and national, who have found terrorizing the public with outrageous claims and distortions of the truth can be quite profitable.

For some of these activist groups it's not so much the biotech food products, it's the corporations they hate. And they hate us human beings as a scourge of the earth.

read … Misanthropes

Sun, surf, and spies: Hawaii a spot for clandestine agents

NBC:  Clandestine agents. Foreign spies. Intelligence. Hawaii is better known for sunbathing on the beach or surfing than high-stakes sleuthing.

But the case of a 59-year-old civilian defense contractor accused of giving military secrets to his much younger Chinese girlfriend is a reminder of the state's little-known identity as a prime target for espionage. A high concentration of important military commands means there's a great deal of information on the islands that potential adversaries want to know.

Case in point: Most of the FBI's resources in Hawaii are concentrated on counterintelligence — not drug trafficking or terrorism.

"One of the FBI's priorities in Hawaii is keeping America's secrets safe from agents of foreign powers," said Tom Simon, a special agent in Honolulu. "With the amount of military and classified material in Hawaii, it remains a top priority for the FBI."

read … Sun, surf, and spies: Hawaii a spot for clandestine agents

Cancer clinics are turning away thousands of Medicare patients. Blame the sequester.

WaPo: Cancer clinics across the country have begun turning away thousands of Medicare patients, blaming the sequester budget cuts.

Oncologists say the reduced funding, which took effect for Medicare on April 1, makes it impossible to administer expensive chemotherapy drugs while staying afloat financially.

Patients at these clinics would need to seek treatment elsewhere, such as at hospitals that might not have the capacity to accommodate them.

“If we treated the patients receiving the most expensive drugs, we’d be out of business in six months to a year,” said Jeff Vacirca, chief executive of North Shore Hematology Oncology Associates in New York. “The drugs we’re going to lose money on we’re not going to administer right now.”

After an emergency meeting Tuesday, Vacirca’s clinics decided that they would no longer see one-third of their 16,000 Medicare patients.

“A lot of us are in disbelief that this is happening,” he said. “It’s a choice between seeing these patients and staying in business.”

Related: ObamaCare in Trouble? Exchange provision delayed, as lawmakers push to repeal another 

Background: Bob Woodward: Sequester Was Obama's Idea

read  … Washington Post

Employee raises an unknown in County budget

MN: It's a matter of guesswork to foretell the impact of pending public employee union negotiations and arbitration proceedings on Maui County's fiscal 2013-14 budget.

For now, the proposed $573.6 million spending plan of Mayor Alan Arakawa's administration rests on the current pay received by the county's more than 2,000 employees, said Budget Director Sandy Baz on Wednesday.

In drafting its budget proposal, the Arakawa administration didn't know how much to set aside for pay raises because negotiations and arbitration proceedings were pending, Baz said. He declined to disclose the administration's contingency plans while negotiations are ongoing.

Maui County has 914 employees represented by the Hawaii Government Employees Association, 562 members with the United Public Workers, 321 police officers with the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers and 280 firefighters with the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association

read … Budgets

Kaiser union plans work stoppage

SA: The union representing 1,900 Kaiser Permanente Hawaii workers has called for a one-day work stoppage Thursday to protest increased employee workloads and other impacts from last month’s closure of the Honolulu Clinic Urgent Care Center.

Kaiser laid off 13 clerical and emergency tech employees when it closed the urgent care center on March 16.

The union also has been unable to reach a new labor agreement with Kaiser since the Aug. 31 expiration of its bargaining contract.

read … One Day Strike

Hawaii DOT Refusal to Switch Out Lights Means Likely Federal Indictment

CB: The U.S. Department of Justice says that Hawaii's street lights are killing endangered birds, turtles and moths — and it's threatening criminal action to get the state to fix the problem.

In response, Hawaii has lawyered up to fight the multi-year federal probe.

The DOJ notified the state Department of Transportation in December that its lights are killing a considerable number of wedge-tailed shearwaters on Oahu, which are protected along with the moths and turtles under the Endangered Species Act or Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

To defend the state in the threatened criminal case, the attorney general’s office in January got the OK to spend up to $150,000 on outside legal counsel.

read … Dim Bulbs

Child Molester 21 Counts, 5 years may Avoid Deportation

KGI: Reyes was arraigned on Aug. 13, 2012. The original charges included two counts of sexual assault against a minor, 15 counts of first-degree sexual assault, and four counts of attempted first-degree sexual assault.

He pleaded no contest to two counts of amended third-degree sexual assault on Jan. 2, 2013. Both are class C felony charges and each has a maximum five-year prison term.

Private attorney Craig De Costa said the defense had issues with statements in the pre-sentence reports. The court granted his request that the letter from the victim’s mother not be included in the defendant’s parole file.

De Costa asked the court to consider a five-year term of probation with a year in jail, minus one day.

It would keep him from landing on the Department of Justice deportation priority list for offenders with a year or more incarceration.

read … Future Candidate for Early Release

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