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Monday, March 19, 2012
March 19, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:29 PM :: 11785 Views :: Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Broken promises: The rusting wind turbines of Hawaii

Honolulu Joins National Rally for Religious Freedom

Study: Hawaii Scores 'C' for Corruption

Trans-Pacific Carriers Unlikely to Serve Hawaii and Guam

Honolulu Loses 600 jobs as Road Construction Lags

Feds Hit Rail over 'Lousy Practices of Public Manipulation'

'October Baby' Showing in Hawaii

Trickle-Down Regulation: Environmental Maze Becomes "Stumbling Block" For The Little Guys

March 22 Deadline: Will Keith-Agaran Hear Human Trafficking Bills?

Windfall: Documentary Nails a Corporate Scam

HRA: Only One Firearms Bill Survives Crossover

Ackerman Exit Boosts Faleomavaega

Romney wins 83% in Puerto Rico Primary, Completes Sweep of Territories

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted March 19

Hawaii Small Businesses Burn $20K a month on Electricity

The high cost of electricity is draining energy from the local economy. The problem is especially acute for Kaua‘i business owners, some of whom pay upward of $20,000 per month for electricity.

Kaua‘i’s electricity costs, often the highest in the country, have been a contributing factor in the recent departure of businesses such as the Borders Books & Music store and one of the main reasons it is difficult to attract new businesses to the island, according to commercial real estate professionals.

At the Green Workforce Summit on Kaua‘i in January, the owner of Kojima’s grocery store in Kapa‘a, Glen Kojima, said the high cost of electricity keeps him from being able to hire new employees.

He said people are dumbfounded when he tells them what he has paid monthly — more than $20,000, or 12 percent of his sales, at its peak in 2008 — to keep his small market cooled and lighted.

“We have to do something about this,” he said. “Going green doesn’t create jobs, but it has kept some.”

Scott McFarland, owner-partner of Kaua‘i Athletic Club in Lihu‘e, said his electric bill, on average, is $10,000 per month for his 16,500-square-foot facility.

Equally prohibitive, he said, is the co-op’s policy of requiring a deposit that’s equivalent to two months of average use.

For the athletic club owners, it meant handing over $20,000 just to create an account.

“Electricity and taxes after things like payroll and insurance are always at the top of the list of expenses for businesses,” Randy Francisco, president of the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, said.

The chamber is establishing a Blue-Green Committee in partnership with the Blue Planet Foundation (One of the groups most responsible for Hawaii’s high electric rates) to assist and leverage existing efforts.

And yet … Renewables lead KIUC update meeting

Read … Lambs to the Slaughter

Teachers Rejected Contract because Union didn’t give them Enough Info

SA: Read between the lines and see how the union engineered the contract rejection ….

read … Lack of details led to 'no' vote

Justice Reinvestment: Soft-on-Crime Crowd Attacks Kaneshiro

SA: In his March 7 commentary ("Do proper groundwork before bringing prisoners back to isles," Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, March 7), he made statements that are erroneous and misleading regarding the proposed JRI legislation.

Here are just a few:

» Incarceration was the reason for the decline in crime/victimization.

Actually, crime fell nationally without regard to incarceration rates. Some states, like New York, had more significant reductions in crime rates while simultaneously reducing incarceration rates, whereas other states like Oklahoma saw their crime rate stay the same despite massive increases in incarceration.

» Parole violators can be sent back to prison for only six months.

This is flat wrong. If a new offense is charged, such as evading supervision or a second technical violation, there is no cap.

read … Soft on Crime

GOP delegates won in Hawaii: Romney 9, Santorum 5, Paul 3

SA: Results certified by the Hawaii Republican Party's State Executive Committee show that Romney received 4,548 votes, or roughly 45 percent, of 10,228 cast in the state GOP caucus Tuesday.

Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, received 2,589 votes; Paul got 1,975; and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich got 1,116, according to an email from state Republican Chairman David Chang.

Participation on the neighbor islands and rural Hono­lulu — the 2nd U.S. House District — outpaced that of urban Hono­lulu, the 1st U.S. House District.

read … Caucus

Nahale’a 12th to Jump off Abercrombie’s Sinking Ship

CB: The resignation of Alapaki Nahale-a as Hawaiian Home Lands director Friday (March 16) brings to 12 the number of notable departures in the Abercrombie administration, still shy of its first 18 months in office….

read … Complete List

KSBE Launches Trustee Search

KITV: Applicants are invited to apply for the trustee position at Kamehameha Schools to replace Chairman J. Douglas Ing, who ends his term in June 2012….

Qualified candidates should submit a resume, cover letter, and a statement on their view of the role of a trustee; their vision, goals and objectives for the trust estate; and what they would do to attain those goals. Nominations should be submitted to Trustee Screening Committee, c/o Inkinen & Associates, 1003 Bishop Street Suite 477, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96813. Applications can also be faxed to (808) 521-2380 or emailed to jobs@inkinen.com. The deadline is May 18, 2012.

The Trustee Screening Committee, made up of seven volunteer community members, comprises: Richard Coons; Wendy B. Crabb; George "Keoki" Freeland; Cheryl L. Kauhane Lupenui; Benjamin M. Matsubara, Esq.; Wesley Park; and Michael E. Rawlins.

Read … Trustee

Condo owners being squeezed by foreclosure process

ILind: The situation is described in aMarch 2, 2012 letter from Nicholas Blonder to Sen. Ron Kouchi that is now making the rounds among condominium owners associations, management companies, and condominium advocates such as the Community Associations Institute Hawaii Chapter.

There are 7,167 condominiums in Hawaii registered with the state, according to online records of the Real Estate Commission. And many of those condominiums are struggling financially as more apartment owners fall behind in paying their monthly maintenance fees and mortgage payments, eventually facing foreclosure….

“When a unit is in foreclosure,” Bloder wrote, “both the delinquent condominium owner and the bank directly benefit from the continuing maintenance expenditures made every day by a community association.”

And that, he says, is clearly unfair.

I’m still trying to figure out how bills still alive at the legislature address this issue, if at all. Related bills that cleared the House this year are described in this Maui TV News story, while the recommendations of the Mortgage Foreclosure Task Force are described in a video posted on the Senate Majority Blog.

read … Condos

Geothermal test wells planned for Maui

SA: A company planning to develop a geothermal energy project on the southwestern slope of Haleakala said it hopes to begin drilling exploratory wells as early as next year to determine whether there are sufficient geothermal resources at the site.

Ormat Technologies Inc., which operates the state's only geothermal plant in the Puna District on Hawaii island, provided a rough outline of its proposed Maui project in an environmental impact statement preparation notice filed with the state earlier this year.

Officials from Nevada-based Ormat said there are still many questions about the characteristics of the project site that will have to be answered before they decide whether to build a geo­thermal power plant on Maui.

A report done for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism by a consultant in 2005 concluded that the site had enough theoretical geo­thermal potential to support a 35-megawatt facility, or enough to power about 23,000 homes.

Ormat will have to drill at least three exploratory wells to be certain a power plant would be viable in the area, said Paul Thomsen, Ormat's director of policy and business development. Including the time it will take to obtain the necessary state and county permits, it probably will be 12 to 18 months before the wells can be drilled, he said….

Another plus with geo­thermal is the cost. A state consultant estimates power can be produced in Hawaii at a cost of 7 cents to 8 cents per kilowatt-hour using geo­thermal. That compares with 21.8 cents per kilowatt-hour that HECO has agreed to pay developers for solar electricity….

Harris said government officials must be careful not to weaken regulatory oversight of geothermal projects in an attempt to speed up the transition to renewable energy. The Sierra Club recently testified against two bills introduced at the Legislature this session that would effectively reduce the environmental review required for geothermal projects.

One of the bills, HB2689, would exempt exploratory geothermal wells, also known as "slim wells," from environmental review. The other measure, HB2690, would differentiate between "geothermal resources exploration" and "geo­thermal resources development" for purposes of mining leases and exploration permits. Exploration would be subject to less stringent environmental review than actual development of projects.

read … Geo?

SA: Invest upfront for better roads

SA: The analytical reader can quibble about some of the report's details, and the state Department of Transportation certainly does. For example, said DOT spokesman Dan Meisenzahl, it's unclear in the report how one startling figure was calculated: that "driving on roads in need of repair costs each Hono-lulu motorist an average of $701 each year in the form of accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs and increased fuel consumption and tire wear."

Further, Meisenzahl criticized as unsubstantiated and inconclusive the assertion that "roadway design may be a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes" — emphasis on the word "may." …

Meisenzahl said the state has ordered a large quantity of a newer, more resilient patching material, which should enable more lasting repairs. But it's about 10 times the cost of the conventional asphalt "hot mix," he said. He added that in recent new construction on the neighbor islands, the state has had good experience using concrete instead of asphalt.

The correct policy on road upkeep should be obvious: Money expended in better road materials at the front end will make upkeep costs more manageable.

related: Honolulu Loses 600 jobs as Road Construction Lags

read … Invest upfront for better roads

Rep. Ward Addresses SB 2655 - Portable Electronics Insurance

 

ECONOMIC REVITALIZATION & BUSINESS - Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 1073-12 D - S.B. No. 2655, S.D. 2, H.D. 1 RELATING TO PORTABLE ELECTRONICS INSURANCE. (Portable Electronics Insurance; Vendors; License) AS AMENDED, PASS SECOND READING, REFER TO CONSUMER PROTECTION & COMMERCE

-Establishes provisions for the sale of portable electronics insurance. Requires vendors to hold a limited lines license to sell or offer coverage under a policy. The bill provides that a vendor shall hold a limited lines license in order to sell or offer coverage under a policy of portable electronics insurance. The bill establishes the license application process and creates an initial issuance licensing fee of $2,000 plus a $1,200 license fee for the initial or renewal term.

Excerpt from Capitol TV http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ob5irVJS3Oc

Legislature turns away bill on safety rules for zip lines

AP: The legislation is a response to the fatal accident on Hawaii island, where a construction worker fell 200 feet while adjusting a cable. Another worker was critically injured when a tower collapsed at the same time.

The state does not regulate the thrill-ride industry and, as the Labor Department told lawmakers, does not have inspectors on staff who are qualified to do so.

read … Zip Lines

Lawmaking 101 – Hawaii Style

CB: Natalie Iwasa attended a house committee hearing Monday that she said made her so frustrated, she had to write about it.

read … Lawmaking 101

King of Tonga Dies in Hong Kong

SA: Hawaii's expatriate Tongan community reacted with shock and sorrow Sunday to news of the death of King George Tupou V.

Tupou, who championed a more demo­cratic system of government in the Pacific island nation, died Sunday in a Hong Kong hospital, the Tongan prime minister said. He was 63.

"This is a big shock for all Tongan people," said Hono­lulu resident Kau­asi Mata­ele, founder of KT Mata­ele Contractors and a relative of the king. "He was very young. There were a lot of people who felt he was going to move Tongan customs in a different way."

read … Tongan king advocated more democratic nation


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