Bias: NOAA Admits Overestimating Fish Catch, Adopts New System
Hawaii's 2012 Business Tax Climate Ranks 35th
Hawaii Oily Bilge Water: Horizon Lines forks over $1.5M to Enviros
Progressive Dems Petition Emily's List to Dump Gabbard
Hawaii Safe Routes to School Challenge
US-Build requirement for ships: Dilemma for Hawaii, Guam, Alaska, and Puerto Rico
Rosanne Barr to Run for President
Rush for Federal Funds and Publicity Causes $19M Rail Change Order
SA: The city will agree to a new change order worth about $15 million to pay the company holding the contract to build the first segment of the rail line because of delays in the start of construction, according to officials with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.
That increase, along with a previously approved $4 million change order, will boost the cost of the Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. design-build contract for the first segment of the project from an original price of nearly $483 million to a new price of nearly $502 million, according to HART documents.
The new price surfaced in a Dec. 27 letter from the city to the Federal Transit Administration that said the city decided to award the contract in 2009 to "demonstrate to the public that tangible progress was being made" on the project…
read … Delay has city paying $15 million for change in rail plan
Emergency Rail Plan: Taxpayers Have Our Back
CB: The man in charge of Honolulu's rail authority says he doesn't need to show the Federal Transit Administration any new powers to raise funds in an emergency — because the city government already has those powers.
"HART is not a grantee, it's the City and County of Honolulu," Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation interim executive director Toru Hamayasu told Civil Beat after a board meeting Thursday. (They’re still dancing around the Big Fat Tax Increase FTA is demanding)
That's the most direct answer yet to a question floating around for nearly a month, since the FTA told HART that the rail financial plan needs to be strengthened before Honolulu can get $1.55 billion in federal grant funds. That question was how could HART raise more money when it doesn't have that authority.
Hamayasu's answer that raising money is the city's job also clarifies how HART views its independence, something that is still being defined a little more than six months after it came into existence as a semi-autonomous agency responsible for rail transit.
The FTA's Dec. 29 letter instructed HART to "demonstrate the availability of additional revenue sources that could be tapped should
unexpected events such as cost increases or funding shortfalls occur." Without help, HART can't tap the two emergency funding sources it identifies in its most recent financial plan.
An extension of the half-cent general excise tax surcharge would require the approval of the Hawaii Legislature, and so-called "value capture" measures would require the assent of the Honolulu City Council.
CB: Money In The Bank Or 'Bells and Whistles' If Honolulu Rail Costs Less?
read … Rail Plan
HB2260: Bag Tax to Steal $24M from Consumers
CB: Sierra Club director Robert Harris told the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection Thursday that a fee — which would be charged to consumers at the checkout counter — has worked to reduce plastic bag use in other areas.
Harris was among those testifying on House Bill 2260. Environmental groups, including The Nature Conservancy and Surfrider Foundation, as well as government department heads and even major supermarkets, testified in support of the bill.
“Times and Safeway want to proactively address the issue of single-use bags,” Melissa Pavlicek, who represents the supermarkets, told lawmakers. She said the stores are concerned about the environmental impact of the bags….
If bag use isn’t reduced 75 percent by July 2016, the fee would go up to 25 cents per bag, under the proposal….
By the Sierra Club’s calculations, at 10-cents-a-bag the state would collect $24.6 million with a 50 percent reduction in bag use. But the revenue which would decline to about $5 million if 90 percent of consumers stopped using them. …
The plastic bag bans on the neighbor islands have resulted in an unintended consequence — use of more expensive paper bags has gone up, costing stores thousands of dollars, according to testimony Thursday.
CB: The main House bill banning plastic bag use has competition this year. Iolani High School student, John Kaneshiro, drafted House Bill 1828, which was introduced by Rep. Calvin Say.
Last Year: SB1363 10-cents-per-bag Tax: Greens, Big Business, Big Government team up to Rip Off Consumers
read … Will the Enviros Try to Screw the Supermarkets at the last Minute Again?
Abercrombie continues push for single-payer health care
Borreca: …a year into his administration, Abercrombie is again hoisting the beginnings of a single-payer plan.
Tucked into the end of a news release summarizing his State of the State speech, Abercrombie said he was introducing legislation to “study the efficacy of combining state government health policy, planning and purchasing into a single agency in order to advance transformation of Hawaii’s health care system and universal access.”
The person charged with getting the levers and gears to mesh is Beth Giesting, who works for the state with the heavyweight title of “healthcare transformation coordinator.” She is
the former chief executive officer of the Hawaii Primary Care Association, which represents the state’s 14 community health care centers. Before that, Giesting was the executive director of the Kalihi-Palama Health Center….
The current system, Giesting says, has lots of problems: We pay for duplicate tests, too many services are split up when they should be coordinated, and there is not enough emphasis on prevention.
“We have a system that isn’t working,” says Giesting.
First off, there can be more coordination toward complete electronic records and using that system to analyze what is working. The system, Giesting says, needs to become sustainable, reliable and satisfactory….
Best Comment: “Yes, tell the state and county employees that their health insurance will be homogenized with medicaid and may even go to support medicaid services and you will see 40,000 people voting in two years for a new governor.”
Reality: DHS: Thousands of ghost names on Hawaii Medicare, Medicaid Rolls
read … Destroy Prepaid Healthcare
Mufi $294K, Tulsi $203K
The numbers show that Hannemann raised less in three months than he did in his first month of fundraising. In the quarter that ended on Sept. 30, after just one month after announcing his candidacy, the former mayor took in $294,745. Complete campaign finance reports are due to the Federal Election Commission at the end of the month.
The former mayor has solidly outpaced his best-known opponent, City Council member Tulsi Gabbard. But Gabbard had a strong showing last quarter. She received $203,500 in donations in the fundraising period that ended Dec. 31, a record-high fundraising showing for Gabbard in this race.
read … 2nd CD
Lawmakers defer action on Internet monitoring bill
PBN: Hawaii lawmakers have deferred a bill that would have made Internet service providers keep track of every website their customers visit for at least two years.
Naturally, there was a lot of chatter on the Internet and social media sites, including Facebook, about the privacy issues House Bill 2288 would create.
H.B. 2288, which was deferred by the House Committee on Economic Revitalization & Business on Thursday, would require Internet service providers to retain a customer’s name, address and Internet “destination history,” or every Internet protocol address, domain name or host name that a customer visited — for two years.
read … Internet Monitoring
3 charter school panel members resign in protest after BoE Rejects HSTA Scheme to Kill Laupahoehoe School
SA: Three longtime members of the Charter School Review Panel — Chairman Carl Takamura, former Chairwoman Ruth Tschumy and Pualani Akaka — resigned Thursday to protest the state Board of Education's reversal of the panel's decisions on converting Laupahoehoe School to a charter school….
The 12-member panel already had one vacancy, so the resignations leave it with just eight members. Seven votes are required for action by the volunteer panel, which oversees Hawaii's semiautonomous charter schools….
"I really believe they had their heart in the right place," De Lima said, but panel members "completely ignored the only secret ballot vote that occurred in February 2010." He noted that the applicants had won a $450,000 competitive federal grant. And he said their decision to postpone stakeholder elections until after the charter opened was consistent with their original intent and the law….
Board of Education Chairman Don Horner expressed his respect for the three members and their dedication to public education. He said the board would move "to appoint new members, equally well qualified."
"The challenge is the current governance for charter schools structure is ambiguous," Horner said, adding that he hopes a proposed revamping of the charter law will change that. "In my judgment this will alleviate some of the ambiguity and provide the structure we need in order to move forward."
(Rejection of the culture of consensus.)
read … Laupahoehoe
HB1668 Abolishes Teacher tenure
CB: Here’s a bill that tried to slip in the back door: House Bill 1668 would eliminate tenure for teachers and “educational officers” ….
It also repeals Hawaii Revised Statutes 302A-609, which outlines causes for discharge or demotion and preferred eligibility lists.
Sounds like House Education Chairman Roy Takumi and Vice Chairwoman Della Au Belatti are trying to pave the way for a new teacher and principal evaluation system. See a related bill (HB2527) in the governor’s package, which would allow the Department of Education to establish a performance management system.
read … Takumi, Belatti
HB1667: A $500 raise for Teachers
CB: House Education Chairman Roy Takumi and his vice chair, Della Au Belatti, introduced House Bill 1667, which authorizes a state income tax credit up to $500 for “certain expenses” — not including athletic supplies.
CB: [VIDEO] Rep. Roy Takumi on Race to the Top and Instructional Time
read … $500 raise
Hawaii House will not hear any bills requiring drug testing for welfare recipients this year
AP: The state House Human Services Committee won't hear any bills that propose drug testing applicants and recipients of public assistance for low-income families this session.
Committee Chairman John Mizuno says the issue will be brought up again next year, but it won't happen in 2012 because he doesn't plan to schedule hearings for any current legislation.
According to Mizuno, Hawaii Administrative Rules and federal statutes already permit drug screening aid recipients if there's reasonable cause.
SA: House committee shelves drug testing for public assistance recipients
read … That was fast
HART awards design contract for Airport Section of Honolulu Rail Transit Route, grand total of 15 Jobs created
The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) has awarded a $38.8 million contract with AECOM Technical Services, Inc. to design the rail transit project’s airport section of the elevated rail guideway.
AECOM is responsible for the design of the 5.2-mile portion of the rail guideway from Aloha Stadium to the Middle Street Transit Center in Kalihi. The company was given notice to proceed on the contract and is required to finish the design work by Spring 2013.
Following the scheduled completion of AECOM’s design work, a separate construction contract will be put out to bid for the airport section of the elevated guideway. Future contracts will also be awarded for the design and construction of rail stations along that particular segment of the rail route at Pearl Harbor, Honolulu International Airport, Lagoon Drive and Middle Street.
PBN: AECOM will hire 10-15 new positions
read … HART
SA Hands out Instructions to Pro-Bowl Negotiators
SA: Sunday’s Pro Bowl game will complete the NFL’s current contract with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, and the two sides have been engaged in negotiations this week for future games….
The Pro Bowl arrived at Aloha Stadium in 1980 and continued through 30 consecutive seasons until the NFL departed from its long-standing Hawaii agreement by going in 2010 to Miami, site of that year’s Super Bowl, a week before the championship game. The game returned to Honolulu last year, but next year’s game may be in New Orleans, where the Super Bowl is scheduled the following week.
A year ago, then-new Gov. Abercrombie added to uncertainty over the Pro Bowl’s future in Hawaii when he mocked the contract, in which the state pays the NFL.
$4 million to host the game. Now, he says, “We would like to continue to have (the game) and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that comes about in a fashion that will make everybody very, very happy.”
…state tourism officials, with Abercrombie’s continued support, need to push determinedly toward the multiyear goal: first, the 2014 Pro Bowl here instead of near chilly New York, that year’s Super Bowl venue; then pursue next year’s bid over New Orleans, and 2015 over the rumored Glendale, Ariz.
read … But, but, but what about all the gay unions?
Office Of Hawaiian Affairs Cuts Lobbying Expenses as Hope for Akaka Bill Fades
HR: Once again, Hawaii state and county government agencies spent far more money lobbying in Washington D.C. than private companies did, according to 2011 U.S. Senate lobbyist disclosure reports.
As has been the case in recent years, Honolulu’s rapid transit agency, HART, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs laid out the biggest bucks to woo political support and budget appropriations from Congress and the executive branch.
But OHA’s lobbying effort, which ballooned to $680,000 in 2005 and has totaled $3.6 million since 1999, dwindled to $160,000 last year as prospects for Congressional approval of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act have dimmed.
In the last three months of 2011, OHA’s lobbying bill from Patton Boggs, its influential representative in Washington, shriveled to just $10,000, according to records filed with the U.S. Senate. The disclosure data can be accessed here
read … Your Tax Dollars at Work
Dods – Horner – Harrison: Meet Your Next Ruler
PBN: Bob Harrison (Kim Jong Un) 51, CEO of the state’s largest bank, succeeded Don Horner (Kim Jong Il) as CEO of First Hawaiian Bank on Jan. 1, while Horner continues to serve as chairman….
At First Hawaiian, he moved up the ranks, eventually serving as vice chairman and chief risk officer before becoming the bank’s president and chief operating officer. The succession planning process took about three years, and was very similar to the transition Horner went through before becoming CEO following the retirement of Walter A. Dods Jr…. (Kim il Sung)
The year is off to a good start, with First Hawaiian reporting 2011 net income of $209 million, a 3.4 percent increase compared to 2010. Deposits reached a record $12.2 billion in 2011, an increase of nearly 16 percent compared to 2010, and loans and leases increased by 1.5 percent to $8.4 billion.
Given his background, Harrison seems like the kind of banker who never will forget the names or faces behind the people who are helping First Hawaiian generate those kind of numbers. (Like a politician)
So, don’t be surprised if you don’t find Harrison spending a lot of time in his office. The views may be some of the best in Honolulu, but he’ll be busy spending time with the people who guarantee his success. (Like a politician)
read … Meet your next Ruler
Superferries parked in Norfolk now belong to Navy, One Headed back to Pacific
AP: Merchant mariners employed by a private company under contract to the Navy's Military Sealift Command are aboard each vessel, the Navy said.
The ferries will remain at Lamberts Point until they can be moved into shipyards for conversion for Defense Department use, Meghan Patrick, a spokeswoman with the Sealift Command, said in an email.
The ferries will eventually be renamed by the Secretary of the Navy, Patrick said.
One of the ferries is headed for the Pacific. (I hope they bring it here and do donuts in Nawilili Harbor as a weekly training exercise.)
read … Thank Maui and Kauai Democratic Party Organizations
Molokai Resident Speaks out Against Activists
CB: My keiki want to move back home, but there are no jobs. I own my home, but the house behind me is a rental. I cannot tell you how many young couples have moved in and fight until the wee hours of the morning. I hurt because many of our youth know no better, they are stifled to the point that they’re angry, yet they don’t even understand why…. It’s the lack of opportunity and choices, they don’t have much to build their self esteem.
Yet the irony is they stand shoulder to shoulder with those that have extreme voices and sell anger – not realizing that opportunity and knowledge is their cure. When you’re downtrodden, it’s easy to feel anger, it’s easy to reach for drugs, and it’s easy to abuse your spouse and your keiki. I hear it. I see it. Yet I will not succumb to it. But how do I help my community if I don’t have support?
For years I’ve heard from off islanders that “the problem with Molokai is you need leadership to stand up to the activists.” Well, we do have leaders that try. But those that try, play fair, and the activists don’t. It’s hard to overcome against those odds. And the media doesn’t help. The more they glorify things that are sensational for obvious reasons of their own, the harder it is to convey to the rest of the State that those extreme voices do NOT represent the majority, but seeing them on the 10 o’clock news makes one think so.
So I leave it to you, those of you who have been elected to represent the greater majority, to help shape a better message. I beg, plead with you to seek out the real voices, we have been silent too long out of fear and frankly, exhaustion. We can only hope you will do right by us, it is common sense really. The thirty-plus percent of Molokai that live off of government assistance have nothing to lose. What does it matter to them to have a viable economy? Yet there are only so many jobs to be had at this point on Molokai…, and for those who are lucky enough to have gainful employment or businesses, they face the risk every day – that activists will chase another business off the island. I don’t think I’m unduly blowing this out of proportion, there is a well established pattern. So when is enough, enough?
read … Molokai
Sovereignty Activist Pleads 5th in Theft of Old Man’s Estate, Mortgage Scam
MN: But when she mentioned that Hoy had walked out on that session, Raffetto quickly said, "He walked out?"
He never got a direct answer, but Wong indicated he had quit answering on Fifth Amendment grounds.
Hoy was represented by Dana Ishibashi of Honolulu, who said he was concerned about the federal charges.
Hoy was charged in May with alleged mortgage fraud against mostly Native Hawaiians along with Mahealani Ventura-Oliver and others. But Raffetto also was told that Hoy is a cooperating witness in that case and not really a target of the federal prosecutors.
Ishibashi said Hoy might possibly be faced with self-incrimination in either matter, although so far the Dorcy matter is a probate and trust dispute and no one has been charged with a crime.
read … He cites possibility of self-incrimination
Rapist, Murderer Was Multiple Repeat Offender
SA: Because Skinner was at least 60 years old, the prosecutor is seeking the state's harshest penalty: life in prison without the opportunity for parole. The normal penalty for second-degree murder is life in prison with the possibility for parole.
Austin remains in custody unable to post $200,000 bail.
He pleaded guilty in January 1984 to second-degree burglary for breaking into Mission Houses Museum, stealing some old pictures and journals and selling them.
Circuit Judge Donald Tsukiyama sentenced Austin to five years of probation in March 1984, resentenced him to a new five-year period of probation in June 1985 for violating the terms of his release, then resentenced him to five years in prison in December 1986 for again violating his probation.
Austin was on parole at the time of Skinner's murder up until he completed his sentence in April 1991.
Skinner's murder remained unsolved for more than 20 years until police said they matched Austin's DNA with that of some semen recovered from Skinner's body.
read … Soft on Crime
Sotomayor Schedule in Hawaii
While in Honolulu, Sotomayor will teach classes at the law school, judge a moot court practice, meet with faculty and students throughout the week and address students at Farrington High School in Kalihi. She will be a guest at several scheduled events sponsored by the Hawaii State Bar Association and the Hawaii Women’s Legal Foundation.
read … Sotomayor
Human Trafficking: Same Prosecutor, Same Error, Same Result
Gainesville, FL: Adriana Isabel Vieco, an attorney for the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., filed the motion to have the charges dropped against Cabioch Bontemps, 35, a longtime farm worker in the LaCrosse area, and Miami-area residents Willy Paul Edouard, 48, and Carline Ceneus, 33.
Vieco was appointed to prosecute the case last year, several months after another federal prosecutor, Susan French, sought the indictments.
French was prosecuting a similar case in Hawaii last year when she was removed from the case by justice officials. French was dismissed from the case because of an unspecified health concern and after a defense attorney said the grand jury that indicted his client had been given incorrect information about a federal law.
Carline Ceneus' attorney, Lloyd Vipperman of Gainesville, said the decision to dismiss the local case was likely the result of a change in federal labor laws that was passed in 2008 but did not take effect until 2009, after the Haitians had reached the United States. It was the same law that published reports said French misstated to the grand jury in Hawaii.
Apparently, the indictments were made on a law that was not yet in effect. (This would allow French a sense of consistency while helping Case and Omidyar avoid embarrassment)
read … Throw Another Case
Russian tourism organization joins efforts of HiTA
Alexey Kats, he indicates that interest in travel to the Aloha State is definitely there. “Due to the fact that interest of Russian tourists to the United States is growing every year, I believe it is important and necessary to offer to potential customers a new direction for the ultimate high-quality recreation,” said Alexey Kats of World Tourism Services.
read … Vladivostok?
Kyo-Ya Zoning Appeal Recessed for Two Weeks
CB: After an executive session, the Zoning Board of Appeals has recessed for the day. It declined to make a decision on questions of standing and jurisdiction.
Specifically, it’s not yet clear if the board believes the environmental groups challenging Kyo-ya’s proposed Waikiki redevelopment would be personally impacted by the project, and not yet clear if the board believes those groups have identified the errors of fact that Planning Director David Tanoue made when approving the variance for the project.
read … Kyo-Ya!
$10B Captive: Hawaii licenses 10 new captive insurers in 2011
Hawaii licensed 10 new captive insurance companies in 2011 across a broad range of businesses, the insurance division of the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs announced Thursday.
Five Hawaii captives closed during 2011, bringing the total number of active captives in the domicile to 172 at the end of last year.
pdf: Hawaii Domicile Sees Gains In 2011 ($10B total value)
read … Inside Job
Feds Claim to Save Monk Seals from Sharks
AP: Federal officials say cutting Hawaiian monk seals free from fishing nets, moving vulnerable pups away from preying sharks, and other efforts to rescue the animals are significantly helping the endangered species.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show about one-fifth of the roughly 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals in the world are alive today because of interventions to save them, their mother or their grandmother between 1994 and 2009.
Charles Littnan, lead scientist for NOAA's Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Program, says the seal population is also about 30 percent larger today than it would have been if authorities didn't act.
Related: Bias: NOAA Admits Overestimating Fish Catch, Adopts New System, Monk Seals Dying in NW Hawaiian Isles Because of Fishing Ban
read … Some Propaganda
EPA: Palm Oil not Acceptable Source of Bio-Diesel
Life of the Land applauds the EPA’s decision today that palm oil does not qualify as a feedstock to produce biodiesel and renewable diesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.
“Palm oil plantations in Indonesia, Malaysia and Borneo are destroying tropical rainforests, displacing endangered species and native peoples, and are causing major environmental damage. Palm oil is a major threat to biodiversity which is so critical for the future of the planet.”
147 Photos of Hawaii's Vietnam War Heroes Still Needed
HNN: Officials are renewing their call for photos of Hawaii servicemen and women killed in the Vietnam War.
The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Fund is trying to collect photos of every veteran inscribed on the war memorial wall in Washington D.C.
So far it has pictures of nearly half of the 276 Hawaii troops killed.
read … Vietnam
Univ. of Hawaii settles data breach class action
AP: The university, which has denied liability for the breaches, said it will settle the case by providing two years of credit monitoring and credit restoration services to class member who request it. The university said it will continue to "work diligently so that the chance of future data breaches is significantly reduced."
There were five data breaches, including one in 2009 where Social Security numbers, grades and other personal information were posted online for nearly a year before being removed. University officials said a faculty member inadvertently uploaded files containing the information to an unprotected server, exposing the names, academic performance, disabilities and other information of more than 40,000 students who attended the flagship Manoa campus from 1990 to 1998 and in 2001.
There were also breaches at the West Oahu campus, Kapiolani Community College and Honolulu Community College.
Thomas Grande, one of the Honolulu attorneys representing the class, called the settlement historic.
"First, this is the largest class case filed or settled in Hawaii," he said. "It also is the first data breach settlement in Hawaii."
read … Class Action
UH Hilo College of Pharmacy seeks $38M
HTH: The University of Hawaii at Hilo hopes to secure funding this legislative session to begin construction on a $55 million building for its College of Pharmacy.
Following the spring 2011 completion of the building's $5.5 million design phase, the project is "shovel ready," said UHH Director of University Relations Gerald De Mello, and could begin construction as early as this spring. First, however, administrators must convince the state Legislature to appropriate the $38 million needed for the first phase, he said.
read … Pharmacy
Court Interpreter Applicants Wanted for Orientation Workshop
Applications are now being accepted for the next state court interpreter orientation workshop to be held on each of the major islands in February and March. Completion of the two-day workshop is one of the mandatory requirements of becoming a court interpreter for the Hawaii State Judiciary.
read … News Release
Electric-Car Firm That Received Biden Visit and $118M in Stimulus Funds Files for Bankruptcy
CNS: Ener1--a company that manufactures batteries for electric cars, and that received $118.5 million in federal stimulus money, and that Vice President Joe Biden visited last year the day after President Obama’s State of the Union Address—announced today that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
In last year’s State of the Union Address, delivered Jan. 25, 2011, President Obama set a national goal of having a million electric vehicles on the road in the United States by 2015—a goal that would be achieved, Obama said, by taking money out of the oil industry and “investing” it in new technology.
GWO: Drip, Drip, Drip: Yet Another Green Energy Stimulus Recipient Hits the Skids (the third this week!)
read … Dead Battery