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Saturday, April 07, 2012
April 7, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:02 PM :: 3552 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party
 

Lawsuit: Veterans, Military Personnel Challenge Hawaii Reapportionment Plan

NTU: Hanabusa voted for 91% of Tax Increases, Hirono 88%

Push Poll Audio: "Berg got so drunk ..."

Biofuel: Honeywell Hints at Tesoro Refinery Takeover

Big Island Paper Pushes Back against Equal Representation for Military Families, Students

WHT: the Big Island’s 24.5 percent population growth, the highest in the state, as a reason to increase representation here. (Regarding 2002 Reapportionment: 38.9%: Hawaii has most deviant Legislative Districts in Nation)

At stake for the Big Island is a fourth state Senate district it gained when the nonresidents were removed. That angered a number of state legislators on Oahu, where redrawn districts also pitted several incumbent House members against each other. (Read: Reapportionment: Hawaii Supreme Court Rejects One Man-One Vote, Disenfranchises Blacks, Military Personnel)

The lawsuit could throw the entire election into chaos. Candidates have already started pulling nomination papers for the Aug. 11 primary. The filing deadline is June 5…. (Solomon and Matsukawa caused this.)

Kailua-Kona attorney Michael Matsukawa, one of the plaintiffs in the successful state Supreme Court lawsuit who has also been involved in previous (STATE COURT) lawsuits over reapportionment and redistricting predicted the plaintiffs will have an uphill battle. Previous rulings have found removing nonpermanent residents to be constitutional, he said. (This suit is in FEDERAL COURT.)

“Maybe they’re hoping the courts might revisit the subject once again,” Matsukawa said. “It’s kind of hard though because they are going against precedent.” (Read Judge Marks: State Supreme Court Ruling Exposes Hawaii To Federal Lawsuit)

A similar lawsuit dealt with Hawaii County’s council redistricting following the 2000 census. Matsukawa at that time represented a citizens group that sued (IN STATE COURT) for the same reason: Nonresident military and students weren’t extracted from County Council district maps.

More:

Star-Adv Editorial June, 2011: Count military in redistricting

read …

no surprise here

HR61: Legislators Salivate for Legalized Honu Hunting

KGI: The state House Water Land and Ocean Committee will consider Thursday a resolution urging federal officials to delist the Hawaiian green sea turtle from the threatened list under the federal Endangered Species Act. The turtles, exploited commercially in the past in Hawai‘i, have been protected since inclusion in the ESA list in 1978.

House Resolution 61 urges the United States to recognize the recovery of the honu, or Hawaiian green sea turtle, and begin active management.

Some are calling the proposed delisting a reason to celebrate. Other are seeing “active management” as a tool to allow hunting and bycatch of the honu.

“We should celebrate the recovery of this species, one of only about 20 ESA success stories,” states a written testimony Kitty Simonds, president of the Maunalua Hawaiian Civic Club. Among other delisted species, she said, are the bald eagle, brown pelican, American alligator, gray whale, Virginia northern flying squirrel and peregrine falcon.

In the early 1970s, the state of Hawai‘i developed a management plan to limit the hunting of the honu in Hawai‘i by requiring permits and reporting, according to HR 61.

Language in the resolution states that scientific studies and native Hawaiian cultural practitioners “have concluded that the honu is approaching full recovery and that the environment and ecosystem are suffering from the current over-protection, over-population and lack of management of honu.”

Read … Turtle Soup

New Tax Evasion Charge Filed Against Retired HPD Major Nishimura

HR: Federal prosecutors have added an income tax evasion charge to the criminal case against former Honolulu Police Major Carlton Nishimura….

The new count alleges that Nishimura filed a false 2005 income tax return which reported that his income was $79,202.

Nishimura’s income was “substantially greater than that,” the indictment alleged.

The amount of unreported income is unspecified in the indictment. A continuing count of the indictment alleges that Nishimura extorted money from an illegal game room operator between 2004 and 2006….

Nishimura “has access to both a retirement fund of $380,000 and a deferred compensation fund of $16,000,” prosecutors argued.

U.S. Magistrate-Judge Richard Puglisi refused Nishimura’s motion to lessen the $450 monthly assessment. Puglisi said some of Nishimura’s expenditures, reported to him in a sealed court document, “have caused me heartburn.”

SA: Tax fraud added to charges against former HPD major

read … Nishimura

Honolulu Bag ban Would cost Stores $30K month, Cause Paper bag use to Skyrocket

SA: Under the state bill, consumers would pay 10 cents per bag, with a portion of the proceeds going to the retailer and the state Department of Health to administer the program. Honolulu's bill proposes a 3-cent fee per bag (later increased to 5 cents) to be borne by the merchant, leading to an outright ban in the future on non-biodegradable plastic bags.

While the business and environmental communities have supported the state approach, retailers testified against the Honolulu bill on Wednesday during a City Council committee meeting because it would ultimately ban non-biodegradable plastic bags and does not address consumers' use of paper bags.

Since neighbor island counties have enacted bans on plastic checkout bags, merchants have told state lawmakers that consumers have switched to paper bags, which cost retailers substantially more.

"All the bans on the neighbor islands have just been on plastic, and if you heard the testimony, we heard from a couple of vendors on the neighbor islands where it was costing an additional $30,000 a month to pay for the paper. … " said Sen. Mike Gabbard (D, Waikele-Ko Olina), a supporter of the state bag fee bills.

read … State bag-fee bill losing support

Lingle the Only Reason there’s a Tossup

The Week: Who's running: Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) is retiring. Former Gov. Linda Lingle (R) is the expected GOP candidate, and former Rep. Ed Case (D) and Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) are duking it out for the Democratic nomination.

Who's favored: Hirono, in the primary and general election

Keys to the race: Lingle is the only reason there's a tossup race in this super-Democratic state. Hirono lost to Lingle in the 2002 governor's race, but with native son Obama on the ballot this year, "is Lingle really going to run 20 points ahead of the Republican presidential nominee?" asks Sabato's Crystal Ball. It seems unlikely.

(Then we’d better be sure Obama doesn’t rack up 70% of the vote in Hawaii, eh?)

Related: KOS: The Secret Behind Mitt Romney’s Hawaii Landslide

read … Lingle

Aiona will focus on practicing law but is still open to public service in the future

SA: Aiona served as executive vice president for development and recruiting since January 2011. His last day is April 30. He will offer private mediation and arbitration services with a focus in family law in his private practice, JRA Inc.

On May 1, Aiona will also join a distinguished panel of former judges and legal experts at Dispute Prevention & Resolution Inc. as an arbitrator. According to DPR's website, the firm has provided dispute resolution services to Hawaii's legal business, construction, insurance, medical and judicial communities since 1995….

Aiona, who lost to Neil Abercrombie in the 2010 governor's election, said he is not ruling out the 2014 gubernatorial race. "That's something I would consider when the time is right. The time is not quite right — right now," he said.

"For me, it's always been about public service. That's first and foremost," he added….

Saint Louis School President Walter Kirimitsu said Aiona has greatly contributed to the school and played a large role in building enrollment. In the past school year, enrollment increased 15 percent. For the upcoming 2012-2013 school year, applications for admission increased 25 percent. He also led the school's efforts in fundraising and marketing.

"He's done a great job in a short time," said Kirimitsu. "We're very grateful for the service that he gave in the past year and a half. He did an outstanding job."

Kirimitsu added: "We all learned a lot from him. We wish him the very best."

read … Aiona Move?

Aiona ‘Excited about Opportunity to bring people together’

HNN: "I'm excited about this new opportunity to bring people together," said Aiona. "I've been blessed to serve the people of Hawaii in different ways, and this is another challenge I'm looking forward to." …

"Being a small business owner provides me with the flexibility I need to take on different challenges that may arise," said Aiona.

read … Aiona

Rivere, Say, Aila, Harris Debate Environmental Review Exemptions

From Island Insights: The state legislature is considering measures to help fast-track construction projects and stimulate the job market. Temporary exemptions from the public environmental review process appear in multiple bills as a proposed solution. Moderator Dan Boylan and guests will discuss different perspectives on these exemptions.

Scheduled guests: State House Speaker, Rep. Calvin Say (D); Rep. Gil Riviere (R); William Aila, Director of the State Department of Land and Natural Resources; and Robert Harris, Director, Sierra Club - Hawaii Chapter.

VIDEO … http://vimeo.com/39899500

Shapiro: Political mess deepens as sewage sludge returns

» Mayor Peter Carlisle and the City Council squabbled anew over expanding the Sand Island sewage plant, rekindling the prospect of raw sewage sludge being trucked around Oahu when the plant hits capacity. Talk about people who really need to get their s--- together.

» The Carlisle administration favors a system that produces fertilizer pellets from the sludge, while the Council prefers to produce energy from the gas. Fertilizer versus gas perfectly summarizes the competing philosophies in Honolulu Hale.

» The city sent a Kahuku couple a $54,000 water bill for an empty lot that used no water. It's a sneak preview of what we'll all see if they ever get serious about fixing Oahu's neglected water and sewer systems.

» A Senate committee gutted a bill intended to prohibit public urination and defecation in Waikiki and replaced it with Gov. Neil Abercrombie's pet proposal to allow dogs into restaurants. This takes political mess-making to a whole new level.

read … Political mess deepens as sewage sludge returns

OHA, Enviros Only Get One Water Commissioner

CB: “This process is all the more questionable given that unambiguously qualified candidates did in fact apply, yet were passed over in favor of these nominees without any apparent rational justification consistent with the legal requirements,” wrote Isaac Moriwake, an attorney with Earthjustice, in testimony to the Senate. “Mr. Yamamura’s nomination raises further improper appearances that he was selected based not on any particular water management qualifications, but rather his political connections on the island of Maui.”

Both candidates defended their qualifications during Senate hearings, noting their experience on the Maui Board of Water Supply. Yamamura pointed out that he came from three generations of farmers, and Starr served for five years on the Maui Planning Commission.

While the list of applicants has not been disclosed, some of those not selected have confirmed that they applied for the job. And the Office of Hawaiian Affairs recommended certain candidates to the governor in December. Starr was on OHA's list but not Yamamura. However OHA did recommend Kaeo Duarte, the water resources manager for Kamehameha Schools, the state’s largest private landowner. He received his Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelors degree in civil and environmental engineering from Princeton University.

Earthjustice and the Native Hawaii Legal Corp. both view Duarte as a highly qualified candidate.

Other applicants included Carl Christensen, who graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School. For four years, he worked for the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and was a staff attorney with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. for 10 years.

Jonathan Likelike Scheuer also applied for the position. He holds a Ph.D. in environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz and masters in environmental studies from Yale University. He has worked on water issues in Hawaii for about two decades and served as a policy analyst and director of land management for OHA.

Just prior to the Thursday confirmation vote, Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, chair of the Senate Water, Land and Housing Committee, called an information briefing to clarify the selection process. But afterward many questions remained unanswered.

read … But they got 30 acres at Kakaako

HB2236: Funds Commission to Study Ways to Raise Your Taxes

Senate Ways and Means is hearing House Bill 2326 this morning, which in part will formally extend the Tax Review Commission’s reporting deadline and increase the group’s budget.

The commission’s existing $200,000 budget has been spent on:

  • $150,000 contract to PFM Group of Philadelphia to conduct an analysis of the state’s tax system
  • $30,000 to William Fox of the University of Tennessee to update two studies he’s previously done for a past Tax Review Commission and the state auditor
  • $20,000 for administrative expenses

HB 2326 currently does not specify a dollar amount for the increased budget. A Senate version of the bill that stalled sought an additional $100,000.

The Tax Foundation of Hawaii submitted testimony questioning the request….

read … HB2236

Shelving of 2 bills hampers reform of workers' comp

Zunin: House Bill 466 required both independent medical evaluations (IMEs) and disability evaluations for workers' compensation claims to be performed by physicians mutually agreed upon by employers and employees or appointed by the director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. The bill was passed by the House, crossed over to the Senate and passed by the joint Senate Health and Judiciary committees….

HB 466 was an attempt to remedy this situation and ensure that IMEs are more impartial and objective. Now the bill appears to be dead.

The second bill — HB 2152 — provided an across-the-board increase in workers' compensation reimbursement from the current allowable Medicare payment plus 10 percent to Medicare plus 30 percent.

This bill followed a similar trajectory through the Legislature. It was passed in the House and was working its way through the Senate until the Ways and Means committee changed it into a bill that requests the state auditor conduct a study on workers' compensation.

Sen. Ige said in the hearing on Wednesday that he wanted to defer both bills indefinitely. The auditor's study seems to be just another way to defer the bill.

read … Workers Comp

Mitch Roth running for Hawaii County prosecutor

WHT: The prosecuting attorney’s office should file charges in more challenging cases, cases that meet the required “without a reasonable doubt” standard, but also those that do not guarantee a conviction, a candidate for the office’s top position says.

“There is a view, the interpretation of the ethical duty not to charge cases (unless the case meets the ‘without a reasonable doubt’ standard), that leads some people to believe if it’s not a guaranteed win, we don’t charge it,” Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth said Friday. “We’ve got to try some of these cases we believe we can win.”

Some of his colleagues have, in the past, told him if he wished to pursue charges in some cases — he gave the Paulino Evangelista case in 2003 as an example — he should try it himself. He did, and won. Evangelista pleaded guilty to 15 burglary and related charges. He ended up being sentenced to 125 years in prison after he failed to show up in court for his initial sentencing hearing.

Roth, 47, said he doesn’t keep track of his court wins and losses, although most cases end with a plea agreement. Nationwide, 98 percent of criminal cases end in plea agreements, he said. His primary duties, of late, have put him in court for asset forfeiture, taking the equipment and money criminals use in and for criminal purposes. Hawaii County, in the last four years, has seized $2.3 million in assets, more than even the City and County of Honolulu in the same time period.

If elected, Roth said he would also try to decrease the time frame in which charges are filed for some crimes, and change some of the ways prosecutors approach the charging process. He said he would like to see more deputy prosecutors visit crime scenes, because they may notice something about a scene relevant to prosecution that police officers may miss. An example, he said, was at the scene of a traffic fatality, where he noticed a video camera that caught the crash on film. Police officers hadn’t seen that, he said.

read … Mitch Roth running for prosecutor

Castle’s Man in DoE Retires

SA: The former business executive left his job as president of Kaneohe Ranch in 2001 to fulfill a dream of teaching math. He spent three years in the classroom at Central Middle School, doing what he called the "hardest job I've ever had" before being recruited by then-Superintendent Pat Hamamoto to oversee the implementation of new reforms under Act 51.

Moore supervised the DOE's transition under the Reinventing Education Act to the weighted student formula, a revamped way of funding schools that assigns "weights" to students based on their needs. Under the formula, schools with larger populations of disadvantaged or special-needs youth get more money.

Act 51 also created school community councils and gave principals more control over their annual operating budgets.

In February 2006, Moore was named to head the DOE's facilities and support services. Under his tenure, the department's massive repair and maintenance backlog has continued to drop and schools have improved their energy efficiency.

"He has really had an impact" on schools, said Terry George, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, where Moore served as executive vice president from 1989 to 2001 and remains on the board.

The Castle Foundation has been a strong supporter of public schools, and Moore said it was his work with the nonprofit that got him seriously thinking about pursuing his dream of teaching.

read … Mostly behind the scenes

HPD Employee Faced Retaliation for Sex Harassment Lawsuit

KITV: A woman who spent most of her life helping the homeless died Thursday at a hospice facility in Kailua. Sharon Black was 52 years old.

Black cooked thousands of meals in her Aiea home for the Kau Kau Wagon, an outreach program she founded to feed Chinatown's homeless.

Black faced challenges during her life. As a former Honolulu Police Department civil service employee, Black was under investigation for improperly copying and keeping medical examiner records.

She said the case, which ended in a mistrial, was in retaliation for a sex harassment lawsuit she filed and later won against the city.

When Black looked back at her life, she focused on her more than 20 years of serving the less fortunate.

In recent years, cancer ravaged her body, spreading rapidly into her lungs, brain and bones.

read … Woman who spent her life helping the homeless dies

Star-Adv Backs AWOL Surfer Soldier

Star-Adv: More than 300,000 troops have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, traumatic brain injury or some combination of those, and military physicians are challenged to examine each individually. Frustrated at the attention given to his PTSD, Schofield Barracks Sgt. Daniel McCarley is staying with friends on Oahu without leave, for the second time since the first of the year. The case is a kick-start for the Army and other military branches to give full and forceful attention to the growing wave of brave Americans bearing the scars of war.

read … Lets go surfing

Dalai Lama's visit, peace initiative will show isles to the rest of world

SA: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will visit Hawaii at the invitation of Pierre and Pam Omidyar. They established the $50 million Omidyar Ohana Fund in 2009 to launch initiatives such as the upcoming talks on “Pillars of Peace Hawaii: Building Peace on a Foundation of Aloha.” The initiative aims to bring global peace leaders to Hawaii….

The Omidyars have worked with the Dalai Lama and several other leaders on other global peace initiatives, including (anti-Israel) Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and (anti-Israel) former President Jimmy Carter, Taketa said.

related: UHM Professor Johan Galtung talks to Insight on Conflict’s Ben Baruch about the Arab Spring, Africans should avoid blind obedience

read … Dalai Lama

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