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Friday, March 02, 2012
March 2, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:21 PM :: 3127 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party
 

Pro-Family Lawyers Move to take Defense of Marriage out of Abercrombie's Hands

VIDEO: PBS Insights Features Hawaii Republican Caucus

Hawaii Christian Coalition Encourages Turnout for March 13 Caucuses

John Carroll Endorses Ron Paul

Wallbuilders -- Hawaii: Exercise Your Right to Vote

Maui Friends of the NRA to Host Meeting

Kona Kampachi Successful Harvest in Federal Waters off Hawaii

Berg: Anti-Rail Meeting Hits a Nerve

Lingle Backs Bipartisan Medicaid Reform Plan

HSTA’s Okabe: We Put Furloughs on Instructional Days to Hold Parents Accountable

Q: But it was parents of students who were hit most directly, wasn’t it?

A: That’s correct. Because what happened? The accountability shifted not only on the teachers but it also shifted to the parents as well. Teachers today still have furloughs, but teachers’ furloughs are professional development days. (In other words: You parents voted for a Republican governor, so we in the union will punish you until you change your ways.)

Q: They gave those up?

A: Yes, because they understand the importance of the educational situation for our students (won the election for Abercrombie) … Why do you think (the test scores) went up? One of the reasons we found it went up during those Furlough Fridays is because now the parents took ownership of their own children and helped them in the class. The teachers were able to provide lessons for them on those furlough days. So now the students and the parents were more accountable for the learning at home.

Q: That’s a theory, right? You don’t really know.

A: We can correlate that because the teachers in the field started to give more homework and tried to engage the parents with this information. … You can’t correlate that, by giving them another day off, they all got smarter. (Always look at what the HSTA denies.)

read … Okabe Admits

Key Arguments: Democrat Borreca Spins Snowe Retirement against Lingle

SA: Democrat Borreca: "Odds are, the Maine seat will go to the Democrats, and that has suddenly lengthened the odds on a GOP Senate takeover," says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, in response to my question.

For Lingle, this means the GOP will have to double-down on her campaign…. (Spin #1: Hawaii will determine whether the US Senate goes GOP or not. This claim is designed to pump up dopers to remember to go vote on Nov 6 just as the Dems got extra turnout in 2004 by spreading rumors that Kerry would lose Hawaii to Bush.)

"What Snowe's decision most significantly indicates is that whatever Lingle says about being a moderate, there is no chance that Lingle will in fact be one if she is elected," said (self-described leftist UH Perfesser Neil) Milner.

"So whatever Lingle's personal inclinations are, or whatever she is telling the voter, there is no way she will be moderate if she is elected for one good reason: It is not possible for a newly elected Republican senator to be effective if he or she is moderate," Milner predicts. (Spin #2: Lingle equals whichever conservative Democrats are demonizing today.)

One of Lingle's best reasons for her election is that if the GOP takes over the Senate, it behooves Hawaii to have someone on the inside, someone who can partner with Hawaii's senior Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, just like the late Alaskan Republican senior Sen. Ted Stevens did.

If the opposite appears more likely, that the Senate continues with a Democratic majority, then Lingle's argument to team up Inouye with a GOP buddy becomes much less persuasive. (Spin #3: if Lingle is defeated in Hawaii, then the Dems keep the Senate so Inouye doesn’t need a ‘partner’. Hawaii can count on 87 year old pork forever.)

read … All the spin

Hike in jobless insurance tax put off 1 year

SA: Dwight Takamine, director of the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, cautioned lawmakers that delaying the scheduled rate increase this year might only set businesses up for larger rate adjustments in the future.

The bill — House Bill 2096 — also temporarily increases the maximum weekly unemployment benefit until the end of the year to 75 percent of the average weekly wage, up from 70 percent, a small boost for people who are out of work.

State Rep. Karl Rhoads (D, Chinatown-Downtown), chairman of the House Labor and Public Employment Committee, said the state should still have a reserve at the end of this year unless unemployment claims cycle higher. He said the state should be able to replenish the reserve over the next few years if, as predicted, the economy recovers.

(They can use this to distract business while raising other taxes again next year. Strategy!)

read .. UComp

If Dissident Map is Rejected, Elections Office Prepared to begin Accepting Nomination Papers

CB: Wednesday, as the reapportionment commission was prepared to take a final vote on the maps, Rep. Sylvia Luke, the leading dissident, told the commission that the proposed district lines were "problematic."

Luke said the lines violated the state Constitution because they "unduly favor a person or a political faction."

She produced data, including an analysis by a University of Hawaii mathematician, that Luke said clearly showed dissidents "were more severely impacted" by the district lines. According to Luke, the UH professor said the unfair treatment was deliberate.

For example, Luke said the data show that five dissidents would be forced to run in revised districts that had the highest percentage of new voters — that is, voters they had not faced in their last elections.

Neal Milner, a retired UH political science professor, agreed with the analysis.

"The chance that a fair process would produce an unusual pattern like this is one in a thousand," he said. "That's a very powerful statistical finding."

Henry Curtis and Kat Brady, longtime political activists intimately familiar with the political battles at the Capitol, testified that they believed — as Curtis put it — the lines were drawn to favor "the dominant powers."

Others, like Nikki Love of Common Cause Hawaii, complained that there had not been enough time for public comment on the maps. Janet Mason of the League of Woman Voters was concerned about the 9.9 percent deviation in population counts for Oahu seats.

Sitting with Luke at Wednesday's hearing were fellow dissidents Della Au Belatti, Roy Takumi, Scott Saiki and Chris Lee. Under the proposed plan, Belatti and Saiki would be forced into a primary race against each other.

Luke and Lee presented the commission with an alternative map for Oahu, one based on the September 2011 maps — the ones ultimately invalidated by the Hawaii Supreme Court because they counted military and students as permanent residents.

Using the reapportionment commission's own software, Luke and Lee eliminated the 108,000 residents ordered removed by the court and came up with an Oahu map that they believe has little deviation. It also pits only two sets of Oahu incumbents against each other — Democrat Rida Cabanilla and Republican Kimberly Pine, and Democrat Mark Hashem and Republican Barbara Marumoto.

The technical committee is studying the Luke-Lee map and is expected to inform the commission Friday afternoon whether to incorporate suggestions from it or to stick with the maps approved by the commission last month — the maps that would force two Oahu senators and five sets of incumbents to run against each other, should they seek re-election….

If the commission agrees to redo the maps, two more hearings will have to be held next week. If the Luke-Lee proposal is rejected, the Elections Office is prepared to begin accepting candidates as early as Monday.

BIVN: Josh Green Announces Campaign for Senate Dist 3

read … Dissident Map

Rep Rida Cabanilla Fails to Report Income on Ethics Disclosure Forms

DN: I’ll highlight just three, and inspect one in detail. In alphabetic order:

Rep. Rida T.R. Cabanilla Arakawa’s 2012 financial disclosure apparently fails to disclose income, as required

On Senator Donavan Dela Cruz’s May 19, 2011 filing he simply checked the box indicating no changes to report since last filing. But his last filing was 12/9/10 which showed him as a Councilmember. Oops!

Rep. Scott Nishimoto also just checked the same box. He doesn’t report his House of Representatives job.

Let’s look at one of these as an example.

Grab a copy of Rep. Rida T.R. Cabanilla Arakawa’s 2012 financial disclosure from the Ethics Commission web page here. According to the signature block at the bottom of the page, which you can see on the original as filed with the Ethics Commission, it was signed on January 3, 2012:

The text above the signature is pretty clear and hard to miss. It says:

CERTIFICATION: I hereby certify that the above Is a true, correct, and complete statement to the best of my knowledge and belief. If I have a spouse and/or dependent children, I also hereby certify that I have Included their interests on this form to the best of my knowledge and belief. I understand that it is a violation of State law, chapter 84, HRS, if information Is not disclosed as required by chapter 84, HRS, I further understand that there are statutory penalties for noncompliance.

Yup, statutory penalties for noncompliance. Serious stuff.

Ok, let’s look at the top of the form now. This is where disclosures are made.

It’s easy to see that there is nothing entered in the “amount” column.

It’s also easy to see that the Ethics Commission received the report on February 3, 2012. Today is March 1, 2012. Has anyone at the Ethics Commission looked at this form?

Does “disclosure” and “transparency” mean only that the form must be sent in, but not that anyone will look at it? What about those statutory penalties?

read … Financial disclosures the Ethics Commission should have caught—crowdsourcing disclosure

Civil Beat still Struggling to Substantiate Atheist Claims

CB: Because questions have been raised about when Gov. Neil Abercrombie first found out that people were concerned over his appointment of Marc Alexander as the state's homeless coordinator and whether Alexander, a priest, had had an inappropriate sexual relationship when he was vicar general of the Honolulu Catholic Diocese.

The governor's office says that the state received only 15 emails regarding the controversial appointment of Alexander at the time of his appointment in January 2011, and none suggested anything about the relationship.

Since then, former Abercrombie staffers have said there were many more emails at the time, and that they recalled someone raising the issue of his relationship with the unnamed woman.

Civil Beat has asked to see all emails at the time of Alexander's appointment. That's why we contacted DAGS.

read … Atheist

Rail is Only Improvement Project in Carlisle Budget

CB: Mayor Peter Carlisle's operating and capital budgets for next year are nearly flat, together up just 2.3 percent from this year's budgets.

Carlisle today unveiled a $1.953 billion operating budget and a $577 million capital budget for fiscal year 2013. Each is up about $30 million from fiscal year 2012 — increases that Carlisle characterized as "responsible budgeting" because the funds will be used to address "essential needs and core services."

"We're going to have to execute a plan that repairs our neglected infrastructure, provides decent housing, helps people move around, keeps people safe and secure, and maintains Oahu's unique natural strengths," Carlisle said in an editorial board meeting with Civil Beat Wednesday. "This requires the fiscal discipline to bend the debt curve downward, keep the CIP budget focused on investing in core infrastructure that is mandated, required or essential to maintaining existing facilities for the delivery of city services."

But Carlisle struggled to identify a project — other than rail — that will improve people's lives here in Honolulu.

read … Carlisle

Grabauskas OK'd As Rail Chief Despite Soft Spot For Toru Hamayasu

CB: Daniel Grabauskas has been confirmed as chief executive of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, replacing Toru Hamayasu as the face of the controversial rail project.

The vote was unanimous, 10-0, and Grabauskas will soon sign a three-year contract worth about $1 million total….

Hamayasu, an engineer by trade, gave his permission to have his name revealed as a finalist. The other finalist was Larry Miller, who worked on the Sky Train system in Vancouver and Washington D.C.'s metro. HART winnowed a list of 13 candidates to five, two of whom then withdrew themselves from consideration. The original pool had more than 150 potential candidates.

Despite their praise for Hamayasu's work, board members stressed the importance of Grabauskas' ability to communicate the benefits of the rail project. Mayor Peter Carlisle after his State of the City address said rail proponents have not done a good job getting the message out recently, and board members earlier in Thursday's meeting demanded more information on and better results from the public outreach program.

HR: It's Official - Daniel Grabauskas Now Highest Paid City Employee

read … Grabauskas

HMSA, Kaiser improve bottom lines

SA: Hawaii Medical Service Association posted a $16.7 million profit in the quarter ending Dec. 31, after boosting rates last year an average 14.8 percent for 77,500 large-employer group members and 3.7 percent for 89,110 small-business members.

"There's a close correlation between the increase in revenue and health care costs," said Steve Van Ribbink, HMSA's chief financial officer. "Our health care dues need to stay in close step with health care costs; otherwise, bad things will happen."

The state's largest health insurer continued to raise premiums this year, increasing rates by an average 3.6 percent in January for 84,000 members who work at large companies, and plans to file additional rate adjustments as early as this month for small-business members renewing health plans in July.

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, the state's No. 2 insurer, narrowed its fourth-quarter loss to $500,000 from $2.3 million at the end of 2010. An estimated 162,000 Kaiser members saw medical premiums rise 8.8 percent in January.

The two companies' financial progress will be noted the next time they apply for premium increases.

read … Profits!

9th Circuit Gives DoE Big Victory over Disabled Girl

C.M., a minor, by and through her mother, appeals the district court's judgment in favor of the State of Hawaii Department of Education ("DOE"). The district court upheld the decision of the administrative hearings officer that C.M., despite diagnoses of Central Auditory Processing Disorder ("CAPD") and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ("ADHD"), was not a "child with a disability" for purposes of eligibility to receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400-1491. We have jurisdiction over this appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm.

read … Bureaucrats, HSTA can rejoice!

State Auditing Student Transportation Office

CB: A lot of state-level lawmakers and officials — Kauhi included — are still trying to find out why Hawaii’s school bus contract costs doubled in five years while competition for the contracts came to an abrupt halt. Civil Beat has been documenting it in its Taken for a Ride series.

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Ige told me today that the Legislature asked auditor Marion Higa to look into this issue, among a host of others this year. Ige took the lead in demanding answers about the rising school bus costs last year.

read … State Auditing Student Transportation Office

DLNR Fires Whistleblower

CB: Taxpayers are on the hook for $90,000 following a whistleblower lawsuit claiming state officials failed to comply with environmental laws when issuing dozens of permits for activities at the protected Papahānaumokuākea monument.

David Weingartner, an attorney and policy specialist at the 89.5-million-acre marine reserve, was hired to ensure state environmental laws and regulations were followed, his lawsuit said.

But he found that permits were being issued without proper environmental review. Weingartner said he raised the alarm repeatedly with his superiors at the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, who fired him instead of correcting the problems.

read … Whistleblower

Wife of Kauai police chief defends him before Council

SA: During a Council meeting Wednesday night, Solette Perry, who has spent years in human resources with organizations that include the United Public Workers and Department of Education, requested that Council members conduct an investigation into the mayor's actions in suspending Perry.

A video of the meeting is available on the county website.

read … Retaliation

Murderer Gets New Trial in Molestation of 12-yr old

SA: Bailey and Francis Talo had been convicted in 1979 of murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Carol Olandy on Oahu.

In the Hawaii island case, Circuit Judge Glenn Hara granted a defense request to exclude any evidence of the murder conviction. The prosecution did not object.

The high court's opinion said Hara quizzed the juror, who admitted what she said was "wrong." The other jurors acknowledged hearing the remarks but said they still could be impartial.

The judge replaced the juror with an alternate panelist and denied a defense request for a mistrial.

The high court ruled that there was a "reasonable possibility" that the juror's remarks about the murder case contributed to Bailey's conviction.

read … Soft on Crime

W. Oahu to get large VA clinic

PBN: The VA Pacific Islands Health Care System is looking for a private developer to build a 160,000-square-foot Veterans Administration clinic in West Oahu at a cost of $125 million….

read … W. Oahu to get large VA clinic

Can we handle 8 million visitors a year?

PBN: The HTA projects that Hawaii will see 7.4 million visitor arrivals in 2012 and 7.69 million visitor arrivals in 2013.

DBEDT’s latest quarterly forecast pushes those targets even further — to 7.6 million visitor arrivals in 2012, 7.8 million in 2013, 8 million in 2014 and 8.1 million in 2015.

While tourism officials have stopped short of identifying any such magic number, the 8 million visitor mark has long been eyed by many in the business as the height of how much the visitor industry can really grow without the state’s infrastructure buckling under in its efforts to support it.

read … 8 Million

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi proposes $365M budget

SA: Kenoi's proposed operating budget is $2 million, or 0.5 percent, less than the current operating budget, and 9.4 percent less than when he took office in 2008.

Kenoi also proposes to cut appraisals, environmental assessments and surveys, reduce workers' compensation, and eliminating the lava viewing program at Kalapana and the West Hawaii golf subsidy.

read … $1M a day

KIUC Announces Big New Industrial Solar Project

Within hours of the end of the fifth and final forum on Thursday for Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative Board of Directors candidates, the co-op announced its intent to build a second large-scale solar project in the 8 to 10 megawatt range.

It is issuing a Request for Offers (RFO) from landowners for sites to host a photovoltaic project and simultaneously inviting PV-project developers who have a project and site identified to propose a turnkey project, according to a KIUC news release.

“The RFO is meant to be less formal than an RFP (Request for Proposals) so that any interested parties that have control of a good solar site, including land owners who haven’t yet worked with a solar PV developer or KIUC, can quickly be considered for the next location of cooperative-owned, low-cost renewable energy,” power supply manager Brad Rockwell said in the release.

The RFO will be issued today. The deadline to respond is March 26.

Read … Solar

VIDEO: Biofuel crops destined for Hamakua land leases?

BIVN: After ignorant socialist trash blocked the sale of county ag lands to private buyers, the County will lease these lands to biofool scammers hell bent on driving everybody’s electric bills up.

read … Biofool on Gov’t Land

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