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Saturday, January 14, 2012
January 14, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:57 PM :: 2589 Views :: Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party
 

Coast Guard, Maui PD to Protect Molokai Cruise Ship

Hoku Still Battling over Unpaid Electric Bills as NASDAQ Prepares to Delist

Design and Management: $2.45M in CIP at Honolulu Airport

Governor Releases $14.2M in CIP Funds 

Robbie Alm Decoupled: “Hawaii should convert to renewables no matter what” (price ratepayers must pay)

One of the most highly anticipated speakers at Friday’s energy forum, where legislators and the public packed the state Capitol building, was Robbie Alm, executive vice president of Hawaiian Electric.

He provided his view on “the true cost of renewable energy.”

His message: “When people say renewables are too expensive, they are just flat out wrong. And that’s why Hawaii should make this conversion no matter what.”

In other words, he doesn't have an argument to make, so he relies on argumentation from authority and flat assertion without substantiation. Meanwhile he hopes nobody notices how much money HEI is making out of the decoupling scam. And he hopes nobody notices that wind and solar are boosted while the low cost renewables like geo and hydro languish. He is laughing about how stupid legislators are--all the way to the bank.

IAM: Alt Energy Fest on Molokai

see the … VIDEO

Star-Adv: Fake Test Scores Plus Fake Teacher Observations will Produce Real Pay Raises for HSTA

Star-Adv Editorial: Now comes the next step -- actually making teacher evaluation and incentives work. Student gains matter, the state said in its grant application -- and that goal needs to be paramount. To demonstrate commitment to student success, state education and HSTA officials had agreed to implement performance evaluation systems based on the following:

  • 50 percent based on student learning gains from the (fake) Hawaii State Assessment, end-of-course exams and interim assessments. (They’re already cheating on these tests. Now their pay will be determined.)
  • 50 percent based on teacher practice as rated by multiple observers; stakeholder satisfaction; teacher knowledge and skills as measured by professional growth; and school-based leadership and service.

A team from Hawaii traveled to Washington this week to discuss the federal requirements, and federal officials are to come here later for a comprehensive review of the "Race" agreement. Changes need to be put in place before the new school year begins Aug. 1.

(Given the weak salary schedule in the contract, what is happening here is that the HSTA and DoE are making the teachers’ pay contingent on massive system-wide cheating. And they are calling it evaluation and accountability.)

CB: HSTA Contract Details

Facebook: Okabe Jan 13 Memo to Teachers (check out the discussion, the teachers are not happy with the pay scale in this contract)

read … Instructions to HSTA, DoE on how to fake it

Mizuno Introduces Two Bills Requiring Drug Tests for Welfare – ACLU fights to keep Poor Doped Up

KHON: Under HB1711 anyone applying for benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program would be required to submit to a drug test at their own expense. If the test came back negative, the state would reimburse the cost, which averages around $40.

Anyone testing positive would be denied TANF benefits until they complete a state certified drug rehabilitation program for six months.

“So it's a benevolent bill,” said Mizuno. “We want our people who are illegally using drugs to get tested and get the help they need and become self sufficient.” (EXACTLY RIGHT!)

However a similar law in Florida was blocked by (whacko) U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven in November of last year after she ruled it violated the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is currently appealing the judge’s ruling. (and he will win)

ACLU-Hawaii senior staff attorney Dan Gluck came out strongly against the idea of testing welfare beneficiaries for illegal drugs when told about Mizuno’s initiatives. (What a surprise)

“The Constitution prohibits government from targeting people just because they’re poor,” Gluck said in a written statement. (Us rich ACLU liberals like having the poor doped up and deluded. It makes them easier to rule.) “Federal courts have consistently blocked nearly identical measures as unconstitutional. (yeah, right) With Hawaii in a budget crisis, precious taxpayer dollars are better spent on supporting Hawaii's needy families rather than criminalizing them simply because they’re poor." (Translation: The ACLU’s reading of the Constitution says that we are all obligated to buy crack and meth for the poor—and that to deny the poor their crack and meth is an inhumane act. Here’s a better idea. Lets buy crack for all the ACLU lawyers and give it to them free. It’s the humane thing to do.)

However Mizuno believes his other bill, HB1710, would pass constitutional muster. The bill requires TANF recipients to be tested for illegal drugs only if there is probable cause, for example erratic behavior observed by a case worker. The measure is crafted after a successful law in Missouri that the National Conference of State Legislatures believes would be upheld in court.

(This should be seen as part of Justice Reinvestment.)

read … Drug Test

A few words from the wise offered to isle politicians

For U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono: "I have often wished I had time to cultivate modesty. But I am too busy thinking about myself." -- Edith Sitwell

read … Volcanic Ash

$140M in Loan Guarantees, and all Dante Carpenter can come up with is “Lingle equals Palin”

Hawaii Democratic Party Chair Dante Carpenter: “The battle is renewed in 2012, with the stakes just as high. Linda Lingle wants to be Hawai`i’s U.S. Senator. She wants a Republican controlled Senate. She wants a Republican President. She wants us to forget who she has supported and who her friends are. A “clone” of Sarah Palin? A rubber stamp for Mitch McConnell? Who knows? But for sure she’s someone on the wrong team when it comes to helping working families and the people of Hawai`i.”

($140M in state loan guarantees from his ‘pal’ Gov Abercrombie, and the best Dante can come up with is Lingle=Palin? We understand that Dante is still angry that Lingle vetoed his taxpayer cash, but taxpayers should demand a refund.)

Reality: Enough for 35 Pro Bowls: Abercrombie’s $140M gift to Dante Carpenter

read … Political Radar

Counties Legislative Agenda: More Taxes, More Fees, Less Sunshine

The counties are asking the state for some of the money from uncontested traffic tickets, since those don’t use (state) court resources. They’re also asking that the state continue to share some of the hotel tax revenue.

That rubbed Sen. Donna Mercado Kim funny. Chair of the Senate’s Tourism Committee and a longtime member of the Honolulu City Council, Kim said she doesn’t like when the counties come to the Ledge “crying” and then later give tax refunds to citizens or treat their public employees better than state employees.

She also was still sore about attempts to give the counties the power to levy a sales tax only to have them be M.I.A. when it came time to push it forward.

One of the other HSAC proposals would give the counties additional time — 60 days rather than 45 — to review affordable housing projects.

Former Speaker Joe Souki, a Maui representative who also lobbies the Maui County Council, suggested that the counties instead just ask the state to loosen the Sunshine Law, since the six-day posting requirement is what’s making it hard to hit the tight deadlines. HSAC President Mel Rapozo, a member of the Kauai County Council, really enjoyed that idea and will press his colleagues to support it.

read … Gimme, gimme, gimme

Maui Chamber of Commerce: Calling for an environment where businesses can grow

MN: …given the looming state debt, we feel a debt-reduction plan is critical. This has caused us to change our priorities a bit. We are now asking our state lawmakers to:

  • …no new taxes and no general excise tax increase.
  • Develop a debt-reduction plan. The buck has to stop here as Hawaii faces an economic storm with unfunded pension and health costs at a staggering $22 billion (equating to a debt level of roughly $25,000 for every man, woman and child in Hawaii); not to mention the less-than-bright forecast for 2014. We would like to see a long-term plan arrived at by the end of session.
  • Improve the education system. We call again for an audit of the Department of Education and a focus on the classroom and results. …
  • …bringing down the cost of the unemployment insurance tax and preventing further unnecessary workplace mandates.
  • Spur economic growth. Promote our existing industries and offer business incentives to attract new industries and investment in Hawaii to improve the economic climate and create needed jobs….

AP: State eyeing cuts over tax increases

read … Maui Chamber

Distraction Technique: Lawmakers propose delay to Unemployment Fund increase

HNN: …lawmakers will consider delaying a scheduled increase in contributions to the state's Unemployment Trust Fund when the 2012 legislature convenes Wednesday, January 18.

According the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations the average annual contribution in 2011 per employee was $667. If the required contribution is allowed to increase as scheduled, companies will have to pay an additional $180 to $650 per employee….

The unemployment trust fund is running low. It has just $5 million. If the required contribution is increased as scheduled, the fund is projected to grow to a healthier $183-million by the end of the year. But, if the increase is delayed, the fund will grow to just $74 million. And with recent layoffs at Hawaii Medical Center and elsewhere, that fund will need lots money to pay unemployment claims….

(And the best part about “delay” is that this issue will be back next session to distract businesses while taxes are again raised elsewhere. Who could possibly be fooled.)

read … Unemployment Tax

Rail costs low-balled, consultant says

SA: Honolulu's rail project is showing "warning signs" that its costs have been underestimated and ridership overestimated, according to a former member of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission and the Amtrak Reform Council.

Wendell Cox, now a consultant and a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told an audience Thursday at the 36th annual SmartBusiness Hawaii Conference that he believes the ridership projections for the Oahu rail project will turn out to be 40 percent too high.

As for the costs, "you will not know the costs until it is too late," Cox told about 100 people at the conference.

Cox cited a study by a research team led by University of Oxford scholar Bent Flyvbjerg that found a pattern of cost overruns in major public works projects, including rail.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation predicts the city's 20-mile project will cost $5.27 billion. The system will run from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center, and planners expect it will have a weekday average of 116,300 passenger trips by 2030….

Cox, who served on the Los Angeles commission from 1977 to 1985, cited his own predictions in 2000 in connection with the Las Vegas monorail project, which was supposed to have a ridership of 55,000. Cox said he predicted about 21,000 riders, which turned out to be almost exactly correct.

"The basic point is this is not unusual, this is what happens all the time," Cox said.

Cox also said the state and the FTA have warned that the city cannot afford the debt from the project and that the half-percent excise tax surcharge will not generate enough money to support the project.

Cox cited a letter last month from the FTA that approved the rail system for final design but also warned that the city must strengthen the financial plan for the project before the federal government will commit funding.

read … Rail costs low-balled, consultant says

WSJ: More States Decide to ‘Buy Veteran’

WSJ: Some states, like Illinois, set an annual goal of 3% of all contracts for businesses owned by veterans. Others, like Pennsylvania, encourage government agencies to increase contracting with veteran-owned businesses, without establishing a target. This month, Hawaii Republicans are expected to introduce a bill that would set aside 3%, or roughly $33 million, of the state’s spending for veteran-owned businesses each year.

“Veterans more than anyone else have really sacrificed for their country,” said state Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson, one of the bill’s sponsors. “If there was a group to give a preference for, there are very few others that are as compelling.”

News Release: House Republican Caucus Proposes Veterans Preference in State Contracting

read … Wall Street Journal

NY Court Decision to become Tool for Hawaii Atheist

HNN: A new federal court decision in New York could have ripple effects here in Hawaii. The ruling stated 60 churches in Manhattan will not be able to use public schools as their place of worship. The decision prohibits religious groups from using public school facilities. Could that happen here in Hawaii as well?

There are some differences between Hawaii and New York. New York specifically bans houses of worship from meeting in public spaces. Hawaii does not. New York didn't charge rent for facilities but Hawaii does. But some wonder where the line between church and state is.

"Churches have sort of occupied schools and taken them over for such long lengths of time where the public might actually perceive that the school has become a church itself," said Mitch Kahle, Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church. "When church is separate from state I think everybody wins."

To prove his point he took photos of banners hanging on school grounds and trucks with "Simply Jesus" parked on campus during the week. However it was during winter break….

Many churches use schools. New Hope Oahu says it's a win-win. In Farrington High School's case the church says it pays $200,000 a year in rent and $50,000 a month in utilities. They make a $24,000 donation every year for the school to use as it chooses. They have also changed the once condemned auditorium to be state of the art and will add $300,000 of upgrades to the sound and lighting system, replace the house curtain and refurbish all the seats.

"They're doing some construction and they even want to know if we want to be a part of that and it may be a pretty amazing partnership one of the first in the nation where there is a really close partnership with the school and we're excited about that," said Wayne Cordeiro, New Hope Oahu Pastor, during his Christmas service.

read … Another tool

Prison Alternatives Team Up: Drug Court & HOPE

KITV: A probation program started in Hawaii that helps keep people out of prison has received national attention.

It's being adopted as a model in four other states and is now being expanded on Oahu.

There is hope within the corridors of the first Circuit Court and the numbers show the program is working.

Circuit Judge Steven Alm started the program called Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement -- or HOPE -- in 2004….

Now, Hawaii's Drug Court, which has been around for 20 years, is being added into the mix as a prison alternative.

"If folks aren't making it in HOPE and they're headed for state prison at $50,000 a year per person, we're giving them a chance in drug court," said Alm.

Regular probation costs about $1,000 per person a year, while HOPE costs about $2,000. Drug Court runs around $6,000 to $7,000 a year.

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

Read … Alternatives

After Officers Killed in Farrington Hwy Accident, Push for Law Requiring Drivers to Give more Space

SA: Hawaii is the only state in the country without a law requiring motorists to give a one-lane safety cushion, or to slow down, when driving around a police car, firetruck or ambulance that is stopped to help someone.

Four months after police officer Eric Fontes was struck and killed by a motorist as he was standing beside Farrington Highway near Honokai Hale for a traffic stop, the Honolulu Police Department and other emergency first responders are pushing for the state Legislature to pass a bill to bring Hawaii in line with the other states.

Fontes' death is still under investigation, and there is no certainty the law would have made a difference on the night of Sept. 13, when motorist James Dorsey Mancao's pickup truck plowed into a row of police cars stopped on the left shoulder of Farrington Highway just before Ko Olina. Fontes was struck and killed, and officer Herman "Sam" Scanlan was injured.

But Maj. Kurt Kendro, who heads HPD's Traffic Division, said the dangers faced by police officers, firefighters and paramedics when they need to work on the side of the highway are too great for Hawaii not to have a law.

read … Traffic

After Ousting Progressives, Charter School makes “Miraculous” Recovery

HTH: Mountain View's previously struggling charter school, Waters of Life (Na Wai Ola), made a big splash this week at the 2011 Hawaii Charter Schools Conference.

On Tuesday, the Hawaii Public Charter School Network recognized Waters of Life as the Most Improved Charter School of the Year, while also lauding its science teacher, Amanda Benevides, as the Charter School Teacher of the Year.

According to Principal Dan Caluya, the recognition for the hard work of his students and staff was a moment of vindication for Waters of Life, which has fought to rebuild its reputation after almost being shut down by the state.

"The school now has been completely healed. It tells the public that we are a viable institution of learning," he said.

read … Dump the Progressives

Viewpoint: Plastic bag ban should be revisited

MN: It's been more than a year since Maui County's plastic bag ban, Ordinance No. 3587, prohibiting businesses from providing plastic bags to customers, went into effect. The trendy environmental bill was passed unanimously in August 2008. The stated goals for banning plastic bags were to reduce litter, pollution and protect marine life.

Absence of an environmental impact study on possible adverse effects of the ban, as required by law, should alone be sufficient in requiring officials to take a step back and question whether it should be forced on residents.

It's admirable to live and be seen as "green" in society, but the problem is that nobody really knows what "green" is these days. Science is not consulted before policies are on lawmakers' desks, often going unread before signed.

read … Bag Ban

Judge Rejects Complaint Against Kawaiahao Church

CB: A Circuit Court judge on Friday rejected claims by a Maui activist that Kawaiahao Church had violated state laws in its plan to construct a multipurpose center on church grounds.

But the decision doesn't mean construction can move forward. The case is one of two stemming from the construction plans. In the other case, last month a judge granted a preliminary injunction and ordered the church not to start building.

read … Kawaiahao

Usual Suspects Hijack ML King Day to Promote Socialism, Occupy

SA: A "teach-in" and rally will be held at 7:45 a.m. Monday at Magic Island prior to the 9 a.m. parade, said Marsha Joyner, president emeritus of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition-Hawaii. Her group is holding several events honoring the civil rights leader and 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner over four days.

It was at the urging of the Rev. Bob Nakata, a member of the Interfaith Alliance Hawaii, that the religious group planned the rally to speak against the disparity of wealth, Joyner said. Interfaith Alliance members, along with other church and social justice groups, will also march in the parade through Waikiki to Kapiolani Park, she added.

…Nakata, pastor of Kahaluu United Methodist Church, said there were many aspects to King's work and that "he was very much a labor leader," leading Poor People's Campaign marches against unfair working conditions. King also protested against the Vietnam War, Nakata said.

King often confronted the government and called it unjust in the same way prophets of the Old Testament were responsible for calling out rulers of the people when they became abusive, Nakata said. Part of a pastor's role today is to be a prophet or shepherd to lead their people, he added.

"I feel Martin Luther King understood himself to be a prophet. He said: I have been to the mountaintop and I have seen the Promised Land — I've seen what the kingdom of God should look like. We are falling short of the promise. He called people of faith to speak up and ask for justice for God's people," Nakata said.

Religious leaders today have to speak against economic injustice and "the overwhelming power of money in our political system," he said. Nakata said he is appalled at the 2010 landmark federal court decision that allows corporations and unions to contribute unlimited amounts of money to super PACs (political action committees).

read … MLK Hijacked

Under Pressure from Fanatics: Proposal Advances To Limit Fish Taken For Aquariums

KITV: Aquarium collectors insist the fish population is healthy.

"A lot of people use words like fragile, rare. They'll call something endemic. Remember now, endemic is to the state of Hawaii in regard to fishes. It doesn't mean it's endangered or extinct," Goodwin said.

This is a long-running battle between fishermen and snorkel and dive tour operators that will not be settled soon.

The board voted Friday to hold hearings on the proposed limits, a victory for the collectors who want their own ranks policed, but don't want their activities banned.

read … Free-Floating Anxiety

Panetta's announcement renews military optimism in Hawaii

PBN: That reason came in the form of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s announcement Friday that the United States is yanking two combat brigades, or thousands of Army soldiers, out of Europe as part of plan to reposition troops. The Associated Press reported Panetta’s announcement during his visit to Fort Bliss, Texas.

“We feel the Pacific is the future,” said Col. Michael Donnelly, spokesman for U.S. Army Pacific. “I would say that what has been said at Fort Bliss [by Panetta], we kind of monitor that.”

But even the U.S. Pacific Command’s top brass, at a recent conference, couldn’t answer questions about what the new strategy will mean for the forces they lead, other than to speculate.

read … Panetta

Fracking Offers New Geothermal Technology backed by Google

AP: To tap that heat — and grow geothermal energy from a tiny niche into an important source of green energy — engineers are working on a new technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems.

"To build geothermal in a big way beyond where it is now requires new technology, and that is where EGS comes in," said Steve Hickman, a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif.

Wells are drilled deep into the rock and water is pumped in, creating tiny fractures in the rock, a process known as hydroshearing.

Cold water is pumped down production wells into the reservoir, and the steam is drawn out.

Hydroshearing is similar to the process known as hydraulic fracturing, used to free natural gas from shale formations. But fracking uses chemical-laden fluids, and creates huge fractures. Pumping fracking wastewater deep underground for disposal likely led to recent earthquakes in Arkansas and Ohio.

read … Fracking is good

The Rise of the Charitable For-Profit Entity

FORBES: The benefit corporation is recognized in Maryland, California (which also has the flexible purpose corporation), Hawaii, Vermont, Virginia, New Jersey and (as of February 14, 2012) New York. In order to incorporate as a benefit corporation, the corporation must have the dual purpose to create general public benefit by creating value for its’ stakeholders – such as the community, local and global environment, employees, suppliers and customers- and create a profit for shareholders. For example, if the charter of a benefit corporation makes clear that it is organized to build affordable housing, officers and directors are therefore held accountable to achieve both this objective and a profit

Legally this means, the benefit corporations can be shielded from lawsuits by shareholders who argue the corporation has diluted their stock by putting general social value over profit .

This general public benefit is considered to be in the best interest of the corporation and must be measured by an independent third party. The weight to be given to the stakeholders is for the corporate board of directors to decide. The benefit corporation also carries a public accountability component where within 120 days, from the end of each fiscal year, it is required to publish a “Benefit Report” stating how it achieved its beneficial purpose along with annual financial reports .

B Corps are certified by the B Lab as having met a high standard of overall social and environmental performance. While benefit corporations do not enjoy any federal or state tax benefits that are equivalent to charities, B-Corps were granted tax breaks by the City of Philadelphia.

The L3C (low-profit limited liability company), a hybrid between a non-profit and for-profit corporation, possesses the same liability protection and pass- through tax treatment as an LLC. The L3C must have a primarily charitable purpose with profit making as a secondary purpose. Vermont, Rhode Island, Maine, Michigan, Illinois, North Carolina, Utah, Louisiana, and Wyoming recognize the L3C. The L3C structure, through its flexible membership rules, attempts to attract Program Related Investments (PRI) – equity or debt from a foundation parallel with the charitable purpose of the foundation- from private foundations. L3Cs, in contrast to tax-exempt charities, can distribute post-tax profits to its owners.

read … FORBES

Schofield Army troops head to Afghanistan

SA: The first of about 2,600 Hawaii soldiers with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade began leaving last week for a yearlong deployment to southern Afghanistan.

The Schofield Barracks unit previously shipped all of its roughly 90 Black Hawk, Chinook and Kiowa Warrior helicopters.

The aviation brigade, which will pick up more than 400 soldiers as well as Apache attack helicopters from Colorado, will be based at Kandahar, Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan province and Forward Operating Base Wolverine in Zabul province, officials said.

Helicopters, particularly big twin-rotor Chinooks, are in high demand in mountainous Afghanistan, a country with a poorly developed road system. 

read … 12 mos in Afghanistan

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