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Thursday, August 04, 2011
August 4, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:45 PM :: 7315 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Six Incumbents could fight each other under newly released Hawaii Reapportionment Maps

Judge Steven Alm: Justice Reinvestment and the future of HOPE Probation

Ewa Battlefield Preservation Hearing Today

OHA Cash Giveaway can Quintuple Your Bank Account

 

Big Victory for Democrat Insiders in Aloun Farms Slavery Case: Feds drop all Charges Against Sou Bros

(On Tuesday, Clinton-appointed Fed Judge Susan Oki Mollway ruled debt peonage/recruitment fees were legal at the time the Sous recruited the Thai workers. Here is the result….)

Government dismisses charges "in the interest of justice." Washington D.C. lawyers reviewed new evidence (they won't say what) and came in this morning and asked charges be dismissed.

The court is now back in session. The jury is in the room. The government attorneys are sitting at a clean table, empty but for a few pieces of paper.

Judge: "Ladies and Gentlemen...The government has moved to dismiss all the charges and I have granted that motion. For that reason. I am discharging you as jurors. I'm sure you're highly disappointed."….

CB: Aloun Farms Human Trafficking Trial: Government Drops Charges

HR: Aloun Owner Wanted $2,500 For Each Farm Worker Hired

Reality: Check out all the Democrat Insiders who supported the Sou Bros

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Martin, Kobayashi hold Fake ORI Hearings

The federal government says misuse of funds by a local nonprofit could cost the city government $8 million in federal grants, but the Honolulu City Council went easy on the organization and the administration in its first chance to get answers about the controversy.

In a discussion held as part of the council's Budget Committee Wednesday morning, members tossed softball after softball to both ORI Anuenue Hale and the Carlisle administration department heads overseeing the city's response to the federal probe.

Although the committee chair is Ann Kobayashi, members followed the lead of Council Chair Ernie Martin, who before he ran for office was acting director of the Department of Community Services that helped ORI secure federal funding.

One of Martin's less-than-probing questions was to current Community Services Director Sam Moku. He asked Moku whether he was confident ORI would be brought into compliance. ("Very hopeful," Moku said.) Martin asked Budget and Fiscal Services Director Mike Hansen if the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development should have made more of an effort to talk to ORI a second time before filing its report. (Hansen said he would have done so.)

Related: Resignation call after Audit reveals “ward heeler’s slush fund” overseen by Honolulu Councilman, Council Reorganization makes Kobayashi guardian of Ernie Martin’s Secrets

 

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Hawaii’s APEC Business Delusions

Worse, they may read David Shapiro’s column today and learn that we don’t know how to do business at all:

And now we learn that the city didn't do basic due diligence before selecting the Italian firm Ansaldo for a $1.45 billion contract to design, build, operate and maintain rail cars.

[Star-Advertiser, City missteps cast doubt on direction of rail project, 8/3/2011]

Or they may see the article at the upper right of the front page and learn that Hawaii’s state legislature is resistant to ethics. Further research may tell them that the lawmakers never even hear ethics bills introduced for their consideration. They may get another laugh if they read, in that same article, that Senator Baker is still working on a Hawaii stock exchange.

David Shapiro dropped the magic words “due diligence” in his article. That process only begins with Google. Anyone interested in doing business in Hawaii has all the tools at their disposal to learn whatever they need to know about Hawaii. They don’t need to come here in a huge flock to do that. In fact, they have not been coming here to do that very much at all. Hawaii has a long trail of “high-tech” businesses which have tried to live in the land of sun and surf but have left. Sooner or later, the bean counters come knocking on the CEO’s door (if she/he is not out surfing) and point out that the bottom line is profit, and that profit requires being close to customers or vendors or being part of a developer community, or whatever. Hawaii is attractive at first, but those bean counters eventually prevail.

Another way for a Hawaii company to succeed, and why venture-capital firms don’t create many jobs here, is that if a company is successful it might get bought out and then leave. Darling Hoku Scientific created jobs not in Hawaii but mainly in Idaho, and got bought up by a Chinese company. It’s no longer a Hawaii company despite our dreams, wishes and delusions.

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Oi: Sewage, Trash, and the DoE should be front and Center at APEC

We should display, even boast, about what’s good in Hawaii, but we also need to show the state warts and all — its sewage, trash, broken roads, litter, educational shortcomings, its conflicts and economic challenges.

These should not be hidden because where there are hardships and needs, there are opportunities for people and businesses — in health and medical research, in renewable energy, aquaculture, finance and agriculture — if strong commitments to common, aspirational goals are made.

 

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Tsutsui demands that Task Forces not be Ethical

State Senate President Shan Tsutsui met privately on Wednesday afternoon with Leslie Kondo, the executive director of the state ethics commission, to discuss concerns several senators have with Kondo’s determination that members of task forces are state employees subject to the ethics code.

Kondo has advised members of task forces not to lobby the Legislature on task-force related business as paid lobbyists for private interests. Several senators have said his interpretation could make it difficult to find industry experts to volunteer for task forces.

Shapiro: Ethics chief in Legislature’s crosshairs again

CB: Most States Don't Restrict Task Force Lobbying

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DoE trying to use Creative Accounting to Pretend to Comply with Law Mandating 5.5 instructional hours

Seventy-two percent of public elementary schools — 129 of 178 — now offer at least an average of five hours, five minutes of instructional time each day, according to department statistics released Monday.

In May, just 22 percent of schools met the minimum.

Under a law the 2011 Legislature approved, half of the state's elementary schools had to offer at least five hours and five minutes of instructional time per day, on average, this year….

The next step for the department is to increase instructional time at all campuses, including middle schools and high schools.

Under the new law, all elementary schools must offer five hours, five minutes of instruction daily (or 1,525 minutes per week) by next school year.

Middle and high schools must comply with the law by 2014, offering at least 51⁄2 hours of instruction, on average, each day….

Officials are trying to think of creative ways to count a variety of "learning moments," perhaps in after-school or off-campus activities, as instructional time for middle and high school students.

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UPW is obstacle to Merging Fire Dep’t, Emergency Services

The study warned that the United Public Workers, the union for emergency services employees, "has multiple and significant economic incentives to maintain the status quo." A merger would cause consideration of changes in the 2013 UPW contract, forced not by the merger but by "challenging financial conditions, personnel shortages and operational considerations," it added. Emergency services paid $4.9 million for overtime during the 2010 fiscal year, equivalent to 43 percent of the regular salary budgeted, the study pointed out. That reveals an inefficiency that must be remedied.

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Application Deadline Arrives for Akaka Tribe Commission

OHA is also encouraging Native Hawaiians and Native Hawaiian organizations to recommend nominees to Gov. Neil Abercrombie by the Aug. 5 deadline. The governor will choose the five commissioners from a pool of applicants and nominees….

For more information or to submit an application, visit the Governor’s Boards and Commissions website at:http://hawaii.gov/gov/about/boards-commissions.html

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Hokulia's future is cloudy

In another case, Hokulia, the county and then-county Planning Director Chris Yuen were also sued by a group of Kona residents over water pollution, planning and land use concerns, Native Hawaiian remains and other issues. That case was settled in 2006.

But five years after that settlement, while legal fees have been paid, (NHLC got its money and so did Kim) many of the conditions haven't been completed, said Robert Kim, attorney for the plaintiffs.

Chuck Flaherty, one of the five plaintiffs in that case (who demanded cash settlements for themselves), cited examples such as the units of affordable housing the developer was supposed to have built and the unfinished bypass road as examples of how Hokulia hasn't held up its end of the bargain.

"Until the financial health of the owner/developer have been resolved, those conditions will remain unfilled," De Fries said….

De Fries, who was the CEO of Hokulia at one time, said potential buyers have made multiple inquiries about the loan.

Hokulia representatives recently sent out an email to lot owners saying New York-based Cooper Investment Partners has expressed interest in making a deal. (Meaning more payoffs for the shake-down artists.)

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City Move To Contract With Single Tow Firm could mean higher costs for Tow Victims

“There is no barring of violators. There is no teeth in this. The city is selling out the consumers,” Clark said.

Barney Robinson of Waialae Chevron thinks the new system will make companies more accountable. But he says the fees the city plans to collect from operators is being hiked about 30 percent, at a time when the number of tows is down.

“We are not getting rich at this job. It’s not something we are making a ton of money on,” Robinson said.

He says the companies are providing a service for the Honolulu Police Department to clear the streets.

Some council members are leery about a monopoly. They worry if the contract would have enough safeguards to protect drivers from exorbitant costs when they may not have the ability to pay cash.

“We have to worry how much these people are going to end up paying, if the towing company has to pay $62,000 to the city,” Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi said.

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Young Bros. rate increase tied to fight to reestablish monopoly

Young Brothers’ application formula includes a “Pasha” version to emphasize the impact of competition from Pasha Hawai‘i and other carriers.

Catalani said the competition has the advantage of “cherry picking”more lucrative cargoes and routes, and is able to adjust scheduling and pricing accordingly. Young Brothers maintains its intrastate agreement to maintain routes and service under the regulations of its charter.

He noted spike periods of Young Brothers performance whenever a competitor reduced service or had a ship in dry dock.

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With Federal Subsidies set to Expire, Solar Boom reaches 20mw on Oahu

It’s a milestone for Hawaiian Electric Company.

Solar photovoltaic panels now produce 20 megawatts of power on Oahu.

"The photovoltaic on our roof at no cost to Easter Seals….”

(Subsidies will end Dec 31)

SA: Investments in 'clean energy' sap profits (Translation: Green energy will be used to justify new round of rate hikes)

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Molokai Stands firm against Windfarms

Kanoho Helm, homesteader and activist on Molokaʻi, stands firmly against the project. “The impacts are too huge for our island. Our harbor would have to be restructured… [There is] the possibility of damage to our reef. It can’t be replaced once they go over there and do the damage.”

The real question is who will benefit from this project? Peter Rosegg, HECO spokesman, says, “The wind farm itself would produce electricity to ship to Oʻahu by the cable, but the whole state benefits from reducing our dependence on imported oil.” Lana’i has been offered a number of community benefits, such as up to 30 to 40 percent reduced electric rates and 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020. However, Helm was adamant in his opposition. “No matter what benefits they offer us, it’s not worth trading what we have already, which is a simple lifestyle.”

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Solar Assoc of Hawaii Challenges Smart Grid Technology

In Hawaii, there was yet another challenge to smart grid in June 2010, but this time it did not concern a consumer issue per se. The Hawaii Solar Energy Association (HSEA) challenged plans for the pilot, claiming that Hawaii Electric Company (HECO) was "putting the cart before the horse," since the pilot's principal goal was to ratify technology decisions around a smart metering system, but it used a network approach that HSEA claimed would be incapable of supporting future long-term utility needs to integrate applications beyond smart metering, notably, solar PV systems and other forms of renewable energy. (In other words, HECO was favoring big wind farms over rooftop solar installations)

When it comes to renewable energy integration, Hawaii is a bell weather state - nearly 90 percent of its electricity is powered by imported oil, their electricity rates are the highest in the United States by a large margin, and Hawaii also leads the nation with an ambitious 70 percent renewable energy goal by 2030. The grid will need a major overhaul to accommodate a shift to 30 percent renewable energy, much less 70 percent. For now, the pilot is back on track, but Hawaii remains a state to watch as it upgrades its grid.

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ACLU of Hawaii seeks details on government phone tracking

HONOLULU, Hawaii - In a massive coordinated information-seeking campaign, 34 American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) affiliates across the nation today are sending requests to 379 law enforcement agencies, large and small, demanding to know when, why, and how they are using cell phone location data to track Americans. The campaign is one of the largest coordinated information act requests in American history. The requests, being filed under the states' freedom of information laws, are an effort to strip away the secrecy that has surrounded law enforcement use of cell phone tracking capabilities.

KITV: ACLU Wants Cell Phone Tracking Info From Police

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OPM considers pay adjustments for Federal Employees in Hawaii

The agency is proposing regulations on pay administration rules for employees in “non-foreign areas." These areas, which in some cases include states that are not within the main geographic area of the country, include Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

The regulations propose a number of changes in this pay system:

  • Considering locality pay and non-foreign area cost-of-living allowances (COLAs) when evaluating the need for special rates;
  • Computing special rate supplements using an alternate method in non-foreign areas;
  • Authorizing OPM to establish separate special rate schedules that temporarily maintain higher special rates for current non-foreign area employees in a covered category;
  • Considering locality rates as basic pay for the purpose of computing non-foreign area COLAs and post differentials;
  • Allowing a retained rate established based on a special rate payable in a non-foreign area that is in excess of the applicable limitation on special rates on January 1, 2012, to exceed the rate payable for level IV of the Executive Schedule; and
  • Allowing temporary and term employees in non-foreign areas to be eligible for a retained rate in certain circumstances.

Full Text: Proposed Regs

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Environmental groups sue to stop Hawaii fish farm

Two environmental organizations have sued the federal government to block a permit issued to a Big Island company aiming to grow amberjack or Hawaiian yellowtail at a farm in federal waters off the Big Island.

Honolulu-based KAHEA and Food and Water Watch Inc., which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., allege the National Marine Fisheries Service didn't have the authority to grant the fish farm permit to Kona Blue Water Farms, Inc. of Kailua-Kona.

Their lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu on Tuesday, charges the fisheries service failed to adequately assess the environmental effects the fish farm was likely to have, as the federal law requires.

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Damselfly reinforcing Federal Grip on 43,491 Oahu Acres

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to list 20 species of plants and three species of damselfly on the Hawaiian island of Oahu as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and designate 43,491 acres as critical habitat for those species.
While most of the land to be designated as critical habitat for the species has already been designated as critical for the survival of 99 other plant and animal species, the new designation reinforces the urgency the agency places on the conservation of species it calls the "rarest of the rare."

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After taking lots of drugs, UH Manoa Perfesser re-invents Atheist Religion

The world's first scientific religion has been created by University of Hawaii's neuroscientist-philosopher, Bruce E. Morton. Emerging from a fresh look at the basic elements of the universe and life, it contains no supernatural beliefs. Yet, it meets the many inherent human religious needs for a larger view of life, purpose, an extended family, and a path to personal transformation. The key elements of this re-synthesis are found in the new book: "Neuroreality: A Scientific Religion to Restore Meaning, or How 7 Brain Elements Create 7 Minds and 7 Realities"

Suffering from seasonal depression in Hawaii, (S.A.D. in Hawaii???) Professor Morton, trained at Wisconsin (the center of S.A.D.), MIT, and Harvard, sought many avenues for relief, some chemical. After self-testing over 40 psychoactive compounds, he struck gold in the form of multiple hallucinogen-induced "ego death and transcendence" experiences.

read more

 

Councilman seeks funds to send Sludge to Waimanalo Gulch

Anderson will ask Carlisle to reopen the supplemental budget to include funding for lime stabilization treatment for the sludge, which would render it suitable for disposal at the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill.

Start-up costs for lime stabilization are estimated at $5 million, city Environmental Services Director Timothy Steinberger told the Council Wednesday.

In June, the Council eliminated $26 million budgeted for a second 100-foot digester at the Sand Island plant.

CB: Council Vice Chair Wants to Reopen Budget to Avoid Trucking Sewage

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