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Wednesday, February 22, 2012
February 22, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:21 PM :: 2926 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party
 

Kapolei Tesoro Refinery Workers Reject Labor Contract

Rail: The Biggest Wager in Hawaii’s History

SA: Roth, Heen, Slater, Loy, Wong, Johnson: The city has announced that rail construction will begin soon. Nowhere in the announcement did the city mention that it might be required to take everything down and return the land to its original condition later this year.

That's exactly what the city will have to do if: (1) Congress fails to appropriate the requested $1.55 billion in federal funds; (2) Federal Judge Wallace Tashima rules that the city violated federal law in any one of the seven ways alleged in our lawsuit; or (3) former Gov. Ben Cayetano is elected mayor.

We expect all three to happen, but the city will waste hundreds of millions — perhaps even a billion — of taxpayer dollars if any one of the variables occurs.

read … The biggest wager in Hawaii's history

 

Kauai Police Chief says he's going back to work without Support of Mayor

 

HNN: Hawaii News Now has learned that Kauai police chief, Darryl Perry, plans to return to work tomorrow -- despite the mayor's office saying otherwise.

We spoke with Police Chief Perry this evening, and he says he plans to be at his desk at work Wednesday morning. That, however, was news to mayor's office.

Three weeks after Kauai mayor, Bernard Carvalho suspended him in a power struggle, chief Perry says the police commission is bringing him back.

"On Friday, February 17th, 2012, a special meeting of the Kauai police commission was held, and the commission voted unanimously to reinstate me effective February 22nd," said Perry, by phone.

Mayor Carvalho had suspended Perry without pay for the first week of February, and he's been on paid leave for the last two weeks.

"My suspension and subsequent leave has been very stressful on my family, community, and the KPD employees," Perry elaborated.

Sources say the dispute between the mayor and chief began when Perry wanted to stay away from police headquarters to avoid officer Darla Abbatiello-Higa - who filed "hostile work environment" complaints against Perry's assistant chiefs, Roy Asher and Ale Quibilan.

The chief said he wanted to protect the county against her filing more complaints against the police department - so he wanted to work from home. Sources say, the mayor ordered Perry to go back to work in the office. Perry refused - saying he answered to the police commission - not the mayor.

KGI: Perry: ‘This whole situation has set us back’

HNN: Kauai police chief returns to work, but mayor bars him from his office

KITV: Chief Perry Has No Badge, Gun Or Computer While Working In Another Office

read … Perry Back?

Solomon Supporters Demand that Inouye be Drawn out of District

WHT: Neff and Arthur Robert, both testifying in Hilo, supported moving the line between the Hamakua and Hilo Senate districts farther northwest, so that Papaikou, Paukaa and related communities are in the Hilo District 1, rather than Hamakua. That change would allow Sen. Malama Solomon, D-Waimea, Hamakua, North Hilo, Rural South Hilo, Hilo, to avoid a challenge by former Sen. Lorraine Inouye, a Democrat who once represented that district. Inouye, who lives in Paukaa, had hoped to be in District 1, which is currently represented by Sen. Gilbert Kahele, D-Ka'u, Puna, Hilo, an appointee of Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

read … Reapportionment

$500M construction package passed by state Senate

SA: The bill, SB2012, passed unanimously, with the chamber’s sole Republican member, Sen. Sam Slom expressing reservations about the measure while still supporting it.

The bill dedicates $500 million raised in a recent bond sale to repairs and maintenance of government facilities and fast-tracks the state’s ability to spend the money.

The largest chunk of money, $150 million, is earmarked for the Department of Education.

Other blocks of spending:

  • $127 million to the University of Hawaii (includes $12 million for the athletics program at the Manoa campus of UH).
  • $63 million to the Department of Accounting and General Services (includes $3 million for state libraries).
  • $70 million, Department of Health.
  • $40 million, Department of Human Services.
  • $20 million, Department of Land and Natural Resources
  • $15 million. Department of Public Safety.
  • $5 million each to the Judiciary and Departments of Agriculture and Defense.

The measure aims to expedite government spending by raising the ceiling on small purchases from $250,000 to $1 million.

KGI: Senate passes ‘Invest in Hawai‘i Act;’ bill moves to House of Representatives

read … Them Burning your Money

Star-Adv: Don't sidestep rules for jobs

SA: The Senate has focused on a potential $500 million repair and maintenance investment aimed at shovel-ready projects, which should comprise those that have been approved and with hiring nearly completed. The money would come from the issuance of bonds and require debt service payments….

Done right, a careful approach to snip away undue red tape is welcome, if it preserves the integrity of an open, competitive process.

House Bill 1671, for one, seems to strike that balance: It would retain the procurement protest process, but set time limits for reviews and decisions. It also requires the State Procurement Office to keep statistics on protested solicitations and awards.

But there's cause for concern in another, more heavy-handed approach: Among these is House Bill 1893, introduced by House Speaker Calvin Say, which would give the governor and county mayors authority to exempt certain construction projects from environmental review until July 2014. The bill has yet to undergo House hearings but, through Say's handling, has advanced on the legislative agenda.

This measure would not apply to Honolulu's rail project and other major construction, including wastewater treatment, a landfill and an oil refinery. Still, while the bill's stated intent is to fast-track projects to boost construction and the state's economy, it threatens to eliminate needed transparency and oversight. Favoritism, misuse of public funds or mismanagement become greater concerns without openness. Allowing the state or counties' chief executives to unilaterally bypass environmental laws is not the way to proceed.

The bill seeks to give the governor and mayors the legal right to ignore, for two years, state law's Chapter 343 that requires review of projects involving public funds, public lands or sensitive/special areas for disclosure of potential environmental impacts.

"In other words," wrote Gary Hooser, director of the state's Office of Environmental Quality Control in a January commentary, "the law protects the public interest by ensuring wise use of our precious natural resources."

A related House Bill 1894 seeks to temporarily allow the governor or mayors, who normally are not allowed to intervene in a procurement, to exempt a construction project from an administrative review based on a protest, on the condition that details be released for public inspection.

State procurement chief Fujioka testified against this bill, rightly saying that it "eliminates checks and balances, limits the ability of the chief procurement officers to take corrective action" and would "likely lead to misuse."

Even contractors' associations, which one would expect to be thankful for tossing delays to the side, are opposed to it.

Malcolm Barcarse Jr. of the Associated Builders and Contractors commented that, "We should not undermine the integrity of the procurement process in the name of streamlining. … Many protestable flaws that occur in the bidding process are discovered by competing contractors who are knowledgeable of the marketplace."

read … Don't sidestep rules for jobs

Bag Tax Back from Dead?

CB: State House leaders moved Tuesday to resurrect a bill establishing a fee for single-use plastic bags after mistakenly killing it on Friday.

The bill has been re-referred to the House Finance Committee for further action. A similar bill is also alive in the Senate.

House leaders took the step in part after private suggestions by environmentalists and others that the bill was recommitted on purpose.

read … Zombie Bag tax Never Dies

Inouye's support could mean little for candidates

Shapiro: Without much to say about Hirono's assets, Ino­uye mostly continued to express a vendetta against Case for "hoodwinking" him six years ago by running against Akaka without Ino­uye's blessing.

This is a political repeat of 2010, when Ino­uye came down heavy for Colleen Hana­busa against Case for the 1st Congressional District seat vacated by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

In that instance, Case ended up dropping out — in large part because of his inability to raise money from donors leery of getting on Ino­uye's bad side. Case is again trailing badly in fundraising against Hirono, but insists he'll have enough to make it to the finish line.

If Case somehow manages to win, things could get uncomfortable for Ino­uye in the general election, when Lingle would use the bad-mouthing of Case by Ino­uye and the DSCC against the Demo­crats.

The outcome is critical to Ino­uye; if Lingle prevails and helps Republicans regain control of the Senate, Ino­uye would lose his coveted title of president pro tempore and his chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee. (Tying Lingle victory to Republican control of the Senate is a Hawaii Democrat talking point designed to boost Democrat turnout. This is the same trick they tried in 2004 when they spread rumors that John Forbes Kerry would lose Hawaii. In fact the GOP will re-take the US Senate without a Lingle victory in Hawaii so the only question is whether Hawaii wants to have a voice at the majority caucus meetings or not.

read … Inouye Worthless?

Rail Suit: New Delaying Tactic From City

PBN: The recent motion for summary judgment filed in U.S. District Court alleges the plaintiffs failed to include all of the sites affected by the law so they lack standing to pursue their claims against eight specific sites, which include the Pacific War Memorial Site, the Makalapa Navy Housing Historic District, the Hawaii Employers Council and the Tamura Building, and a number of unidentified sites.

The lawsuit — filed last May by Honolulutraffic.com and its chairman, Cliff Slater; former Gov. Ben Cayetano; former state judge Walter Heen; the environmental group Hawaii’s Thousand Friends; the Small Business Hawaii Entrepreneurial Education Foundation; law professor Randall Roth; and, physician Michael Uech — does specify 12 sites, including several city parks, Aloha Tower, the U.S. Naval Base Pearl Harbor National Historic Landmark, the Dillingham Transportation Building in downtown Honolulu and the Chinatown Historic District.

Roth said the latest motion was wrong from a legal standpoint.

read … Delay

Act 221 Scammers to Ratepayers: Pay Us More, Get Used to It

Fidell: Some people went into shock to find that building new infrastructure to generate electricity with renewables costs money (as if we didn’t know that), and that we actually have to pay for that. If anyone out there is surprised about this, he’s been sleeping at the switch. There is no superhero to bail us out - if we want to transform our energy system, we have to pay for it. There’s no free lunch.

The biggest single reason for the increase in utility bills these days is the increase in the price of oil (driven up by us enviros refusing to let you peasants drill). Are we surprised about that? We knew this would happen. (We made it happen) Anyone who's surprised about it has likewise been sleeping at the switch. (True)

People also have a problem understanding that when thousands of homeowners put PV on their roofs and stop buying power from the utility, the other guys, the ones who can't afford to put PV on their roofs, will have to pick up the cost of maintaining the system, of burning the oil to satisfy base load, and paying for the electricity the utility is obligated to buy from the PV guys. Over time, the disparity can and will be softened, but nobody should be surprised by any of it.

read … Lord Fidell addresses the ignorant Peasants

BoE Approves Teacher Evaluation Negotiating Position

CB: The board at its regular meeting Tuesday passed policies that would require longer probationary periods for teachers before they receive tenure, and would tie pay for teachers and principals to annual evaluations of their performance.

The governor's education policy adviser, Tammi Chun, told the board Tuesday that the Abercrombie administration already has the legal authority to move forward with most aspects of a performance management system, although it could be challenged under the current law.

These new policies, along with the legislative proposal, will help affirm and clarify the state's authority to move forward with its plan to pilot and then implement teacher evaluations statewide, Chun said.

In a letter to the board, the governor said that Race to the Top is not his only motivation for seeking evaluations and performance pay for educators. Evaluations will help reward the effective ones, remediate the marginal ones, dismiss ineffective ones and provide the right personnel development for all of them….

Human Resources Committee Chairman Jim Williams explained to the board that the policies are written to require the teachers' and principals' collective bargaining units to participate in developing their respective evaluations.

"This is really constructed in a very positive way," he said. "One, it mandates full participation by those affected, so I think those concerns should be allayed. The only thing we can't do: We can't have it both ways. We can't have participation in development and at the same time know what the final outcome is going to be. You either know the final outcome and approve it, or you establish a process that includes the stakeholders and have them participate."

The new policies were approved unanimously Tuesday, subject to a consult and confer period with the unions.

SA: BOE approves policy plan to require new educator performance reviews

read … Latest trick to scam $75M out of Obama

 

Oahu at risk—little ER capacity if disaster strikes

DN: What happens if we have a hurricane, an unpredictable tsunami, or other disaster, natural or unnatural? Suppose a plane goes down someplace on the island? Suppose a dangerous virus hits a hotel?

We just lost a chunk of our emergency room capacity when Hawaii Medical Center closed its doors. As a result, there are already diversions (when an ambulance is sent to another hospital because a nearby ER is full). What happens in a crunch situation?

How will ambulances get through a traffic jam on the H-1 to the east side hopsitals in a weather emergency?

Immediately after the HMC closing there was some coverage of diversions. According to information given at a town hall meeting hosted by Representative Kymberly Pine on February 9, 2012, these diversions are still occurring. Relief is in the indefinite future and subject to some unknowns.

read … Oahu at risk—little ER capacity if disaster strikes

Civil Beat Greets Djou With Bogus already Debunked Questions about Campaigning in Uniform

CB: “Did former Congressman Charles Djou break Department of Defense rules about campaigning in uniform?”

Charles Djou comes back from Afghanistan and this is what CB greets him with. CB’s purely speculative (Did he violate?) story line was tried in 2009. It was debunked quickly. Thus CB is either short memory or they are relying on their readers to have short memory. Which is it?

BTW I'm still waiting for that Civil Beat expose on the ties between Colleen Hanabusa, John Souza, and the Acquitted Waianae Toilet Bomber.

Political Radar: Coming home (Look at the comments. Democrat scum like ‘Kolea’ are already questioning Djou’s service. They are afraid Djou will beat Hanabusa. This is the smell of their fear.)

read … Go here and tell Civil Beat What you think of them

Another Pro-Abortion Group Backs Hirono

CB: The Women’s Campaign Fund is endorsing Rep. Mazie Hirono for U.S. Senate, the Hirono campaign announced on Wednesday.

NJ: Akaka 3rd Most Liberal Senator

read … Kill More Babies

Returning military members allege job discrimination — by federal government

WP: Every year, more than a thousand National Guard, reserve and active-duty troops coming back from Iraq, Afghanistan or other military duties complain of being denied jobs or otherwise being penalized by employers because of their military obligations.

The biggest offender: the federal government.

It is against federal law for employers to penalize service members because of their military service. And yet, in some cases, the U.S. government has withdrawn job offers to service members unable to get released from active duty fast enough; in others, service members have been fired after absences.

In fiscal 2011, more than 18 percent of the 1,548 complaints of violations of that law involved federal agencies, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

read … Obama

Kenoi’s campaign sponsors have plenty to gain

BIW: Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi has never been shy of off-island money. His first campaign for mayor was heavily funded by off-island donors, particularly the heirs of the Campbell Estate and O’ahu engineering, real estate and legal firms. This year, Kenoi is amassing an even bigger campaign war chest — his most recent report to the Campaign Spending Commission listed a total of $146,407.54 in contributions, almost all of it in donations of $500 or more — and so far, he has gotten the bulk of his campaign money from off-island sources, especially executives in real estate, construction and engineering firms. And many of those large donations could raise troubling questions about conflicts of interest. Most of Kenoi’s major donors of $2,000 or more have more than an altruistic interest in the county’s government; they’re either frequent government contractors, or they are involved in real estate development or construction on this island, which means they would have to deal with the Kenoi Administration to get the permits and zoning for their projects.

read … Kenoi’s campaign sponsors have plenty to gain

Honolulu Officials Reviewed ORI’s Financial Records

CB: The city also took steps to answer many of HUD's unresolved questions about ORI. For example, Honolulu officials reviewed ORI's financial records and reported that ORI is not charging fees that would prevent low-income clients from using the facility.

"We've learned the hard lessons and now it's time we get the boat back on track," Moku said. "With this administration, I think we're heading to greener pastures, with better controls in place to ensure our accountability."

Moku said that there is a "very good" chance that the city will keep the $7.9 million that's at stake. HUD has given Honolulu a June 2012 deadline to get ORI to where it needs to be.

The city is reporting progress, but there have been some setbacks. For example, Budget Director Hansen said in his Jan. 31 letter that ORI has more regular clients — but not as many as the city estimated it would have by this time. The plan was to have at least 30 regular users by now, but the city reported the average daily client count is at 23. To continue to attract clients, ORI has distributed informational fliers and contacted churches and senior groups, Hansen said….

As ORI undergoes changes, Moku said that the culture in his department has shifted as a result of the investigation. A renewed focus on federal rules and regulations and stronger records keeping emerged as a result, he said.

"I've empowered (Community Services staffers) to make the right decisions without having to feel like we need to divert from what the rules and regulations are for the feds," Moku said. "There's been a lot more collaboration with the nonprofits now — as far as making sure we get what is needed because it's required by HUD. Being able to document those requests, that's been a big benefit for both (the city and the grant recipients)."

Both ORI and the city say that their working relationship has been positive. Asked about previous complaints from ORI that HUD was unfair in the handling of its investigation and opaque about its expectations, ORI's de Luna said she would "rather not dwell on the past."

Jan. 31 letter

Fired head of state's largest charter school under scrutiny for spending

HNN: The fired former head of Hawaii Technology Academy and his vice principal spent about $100,000 in state school funds on travel in one year, and an auditor found that "abuse, waste or fraud" likely occurred at the state's largest charter school.

The state Attorney General's office is investigating and HTA parents are angry about the information that Hawaii News Now discovered.

Jeff Piontek has been a respected leader in high-tech education and served as head of school for Hawaii Technology Academy since 2008. Piontek said he was an at-will employee and was fired without cause last December by K12 Inc., the publicly-traded, for-profit education company that provides the school's curriculum.

read … Charter School

Mainland Solar Installers Rake in $212M

PBN: Hawaii’s solar-energy industry had its best year ever in 2011 as the state’s top 25 photovoltaic providers installed about 44,000 kilowatts of solar power, more than double what was reported in 2009.

Revenue also increased by up to 400 percent from 2010 to 2011 for companies such as Sunetric, one of Hawaii’s largest photovoltaic system providers. Sunetric’s revenue increased from $24 million in 2010 to $132 million last year.

RevoluSun, its closest competitor in terms of kilowatts installed, would not disclose its final 2011 numbers but told PBN last November that sales were at $80 million to date, compared to $25 million for all of 2010.

read … Solar has record year in Hawaii

Armed forces will vet hydrogen-fueled SUVs on Oahu

SA: The military has chosen Oahu's highways as the proving ground for its first large-scale test of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The Army is scheduled to unveil 16 Chevrolet Equinox SUVs today during a ceremony at Fort Shafter as part of the military's long-range goal to reduce its dependence on petroleum-based fuel.

Hawaii was chosen for the test for several reasons, including the limited driving distances on the island, exposure to humidity and salty air, and the concentration of military bases, project officials said.

All branches of the armed forces will have access to the SUVs, which will initially be powered by hydrogen from fueling stations at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Marine Corps Base Hawaii. A third hydrogen fueling station is scheduled to open at Schofield Barracks this summer.

read … Armed forces will vet hydrogen-fueled SUVs on Oahu

Convicted Pimp Sentenced To 40-Years In Prison

KITV: Vaimili, 29, disappeared June 23, 2010, the day his trial was to begin. The judge ruled the trial would go on without him. Vaimili was found guilty of kidnapping, promoting prostitution and terroristic threatening, forcing a 24-year-old woman into virtual slavery.

"He knocked her down in an alley. Another night he choked her until she passed out on the hotel bed. He beat her up on her birthday night. He would turn the TV up and turn the shower on and whip her in the shower," said prosecutor Adrian Dhakhwa in his testimony at the sentencing hearing.

Marshals captured Vaimili in Texas last September and he was extradited back to Hawaii. Prosecutors were asking for a maximum of 60 years in prison Vaimili.

read … Pimp

New York Welfare Spent in Hawaii

As Florida moves to restrict where those on federal assistance can use their state-issued debit-style assistance cards, a News 4 I-team investigation from NBC New York is reporting that thousands of dollars issued to New Yorkers are ending up in Las Vegas, Hawaii and Florida.

read … Welfare

For First Time, Most Hawaii Moms Under 30 Are Unmarried

CB: And boy are the gay atheists happy about this accomplishment!

Related: Childless Women Make Hawaii Democratic?

read … Celebrate!

Hawaii Most favorable State, California Worst

AP: Hawaii had the highest margin of favorability with 54 percent of voters saying they liked the state and only 10 percent disliking it (+44). It was followed by a distant second Colorado (+35), then Tennessee (+34) and South Dakota (+34), and then Virginia (+32). Voters only had a negative impression of five states: Utah (-3), Mississippi (-6), New Jersey (-7), Illinois (-10), and last and yes, least, California (-17).

read … California Is America's Least Favorite State

Hawaii looks at banning bear gallbladder imports

AP: The Humane Society of the United States is asking Hawaii lawmakers to ban the trade of products containing bear bile and parts, after the organization says it found imported eye drops, lotions and shampoos containing bear gallbladders and bile available for sale in downtown Honolulu.

The bear bile and parts are used in traditional medicine, but natural and synthetic products can produce the same results, according to the national animal protection group.

(Shark fin, fireworks, and now bear gallbladder. Sure looks like the Legislature just doesn’t like Chinese people very much.)

read … The Gall!

HB2228: Requires Employers with 20+ Employees to Set Up Breastfeeding Room

AP: Breastfeeding mothers could find it easier to pump milk at work under a bill before the state House.

The measure would require businesses with 20 or more employees to make reasonable efforts to provide nursing moms with clean, private places to pump. Those that fail to do so could face a fine.

read … More Socialism

 

 

HPU To Take over Aloha Tower Marketplace?

SA: College students might one day be living above waterfront shops and restaurants at Aloha Tower Marketplace as part of a plan to reinvigorate the struggling shopping center at Hono­lulu Harbor.

Hawaii Pacific University is negotiating with a developer that recently bought the marketplace to convert the largely vacant second level of the complex into student lofts with 250 beds.

There could even be space at the 165,000-square-foot open-air mall for academic programs or other facilities for the state’s largest private university, which is based downtown.

A major emphasis would remain on entertainment-oriented tenants on the marketplace’s ground floor, which is anchored by Hooters and Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant….

HPU announced an expansion master plan for its 135-acre Hawaii Loa campus in Kaneohe in 2008, and this year is asking the Legislature to approve $120 million in special-purpose revenue bond financing. (That’s $20M less than Dante Carpenter got!) The university has dormitory space for 200 students at the Windward campus and no student housing downtown.

read … HPU

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