Yoshioka: Bus Service Cuts Have no Connection With Rail
$25M Kapolei Biofuel Refinery Produces 5 Barrels per Day
While Hawaii Legislators Sleep, Another State Bars Companies Doing Business With Iran
Federal judges will hear challenge to state reapportionment plan
SA: A federal lawsuit challenging the state's reapportionment plan will be heard by a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court.
U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright today issued the order granting the request of the plaintiffs.
At a status conference Monday, "defendants agreed that substantial questions of constitutionality require the convening of a three-judge court," the order states. "Further, from the court's preliminary review of the complaint and relevant case law, the court finds that the constitutional claims are not insubstantial."
A state legislator and five other registered voters filed a federal lawsuit Friday, challenging the reapportionment plan as unconstitutional.
The suit says the plan violates the Constitution's equal protection clause by excluding more than 108,000 military members, their families and university students in drawing up boundaries for state legislative districts.
read … Federal judges will hear challenge to state reapportionment plan
N.Korea presses on with anniversary rocket launch
AFP: North Korea is counting down to the 100th anniversary of its founder's birth, with top-level meetings and a controversial rocket launch scheduled in coming days to bolster his grandson's credentials.
The secretive state, in an unprecedented move, on Sunday invited foreign journalists to its rocket launch site to try to persuade the world of its peaceful intentions.
The United States and other nations said the satellite launch will be a pretext for a ballistic missile test, in defiance of United Nations resolutions and a US-North Korean deal.
A South Korean official said the North appeared to be preparing to follow up the launch, which is scheduled for sometime between April 12 and 16, with a third nuclear weapons test.
read … Norks
BoE to Vote on Teacher Accountability
As HSTA members vote on new leadership, the BoE acts to influence the election against the incumbent. Today’s BoE agenda:
IV. Discussion/Committee action on proposed Board policy 5100 on Performance Based Probationary Credit
V. Discussion/Committee action on proposed Board policy 5200 on Pay for Performance
VI. Discussion/Committee action on proposed Board policy 2055 on Pay for Performance
CB: OIP request to be filed Monday over BOE policies (By the alleged guy with the alleged airbrushed wings, alleged liquor thief the alleged Kris Coffield, allegedly. He’s a Progressive Democrat, so it is a sin to speak of these ‘past indiscretions.’ Do penance.)
Reality: Faking it for the Feds, Abercrombie Prepares to Impose Another ‘Last, Best, and Final Offer’ on HSTA
read … Hawaii becomes Wisconsin until the $75M is in hand, then a court will overturn all of this
Budget: Abercrombie Paying $11,700 per Goose, $168K per Delinquent
Borreca: The House observes that across the state, "construction projects were being delayed due to the lack of inspectors available to provide timely safety checks of elevators to ensure compliance with regulations." The House is proposing a special fund to hire more inspectors, but the savvy legislator would be the one who makes sure his or her "shovel ready" projects are all for single-story buildings….
Gov. Neil Abercrombie's emergency proclamation last year to move 400 endangered nene geese away from the Lihue, Kauai, airport. It has now gone from an $800,000 program to a five-year, $4.7 million plan. That comes out to $11,700 per goose.
That is nothing compared to the state's cost for handling the 150 incarcerated youths held in the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility. The House reports that the annual cost is $168,000 per youth….
the Senate committee notes that last year when the Legislature announced that it was reforming civil service pensions for future retirees, no one figured out that the computers had to be reprogrammed. This year the retirement system sent the Legislature the bill for $6.03 million in reprogramming expenses….
Over at the University of Hawaii, the professors have been enjoying a restoration in their pay, which had been cut to help balance the budget. The committee report notes that the state had incorrectly estimated how much to pay back the profs, so this year the Legislature is cutting the university budget by $3.09 million. And the UH lost an additional $5.9 million for overpaid furlough expenses….
Noting that the state Department of Education is supposed to spend 70 percent of its budget in classroom expenses, because that is the law, the Senate complained that the DOE isn't doing it.
"Your committee is confounded by the department's apparent disregard or ignorance of laws that govern it," the committee said….
Vorsino: Isles among 11 states that lack a state-funded preschool
read … State budget looking better but not out of woods yet
Rail Opponents Ask Judge For Decision
Friday was a key deadline for plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit against rail to file their request for the judge to rule in their favor.
Lawyers for the opponents — Ben Cayetano, Cliff Slater, Randy Roth, Walter Heen and others — filed seven documents in all. Here’s the most important one, the memorandum in support of their motion for summary judgment: MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
read … Rail Opponents Ask Judge For Decision
Rail crews continue search for ancestral bones
HNN: Rail construction is moving to more sections of town and with it come some lane closures. Work this week is on the corner of Dillingham Boulevard and Mokauea Street in Kalihi.
They are looking for iwi kupuna or ancestral bones. In all they'll make 232 trenches between Kalihi and Ala Moana. Each trench is where a pillar will be for the elevated train tracks. The pillars won't start going up
until 2016 (ever) but they want to find the bones now in order to address the concerns and move the pillar location if necessary.
Crews have done about 10 percent of the work so far and haven't found any iwi kupuna yet but the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation wants to be ready when they do.
"Obviously the process is once something is found during the construction process everything comes to a halt ….
read … Waste of Time
An environmental review of Rail precast facility OK'd, Could Lead to new Lawsuit
SA: City officials said they didn't include the precast facility in the EIS because "it was not reasonably foreseeable as to whether one would be needed for the Project; or if one was required, where it would be located," according to a 2010 city memo to the FTA on the subject….
Randy Roth, a University of Hawaii law professor and part of a group of rail opponents who are suing to block construction of the rail project, said he thinks the precast yard is indeed an example of "segmentation" during the rail environmental process.
"In emails recently made available in the federal lawsuit, FTA repeatedly warned the City of the litigation risk inherent in segmentation," Roth said in an emailed statement. "I believe segmentation in the context of this rail project violates state and federal environmental laws."
The federal lawsuit filed by Roth, former Gov. Ben Cayetano and others alleges the environmental impact statement for the rail project violates federal environmental law in a variety of ways including segmentation. The suit asks the court to halt construction and require a supplemental EIS.
Roth said it is also "conceivable" that the handling of the precast yard could form the basis for a new lawsuit in state court.
read … Pre-Cast
Environmentalists rally against "dirty dozen" bills at capitol
KHON: "What's being proposed today is not streamlining, it is attempting to fundamentally exempt the government from having to comply with its own laws," says Robert Harris, Sierra Club.
"Call the legislators, kill these bills, they have no place in Hawaii, it's shameful," says Rep. Cynthia Thielen, (R) Kaneohe Bay-Kailua.
One of the bills would allow residential development on two of OHA's ceded lands settlement parcels near Kewalo.
Act 221 Scammers: Action manager will help isles achieve energy goals
read … Dirty Dozen
SB2785: Big Cable for Big Wind Vote Today
CB: Testimony for and against it has been pouring into the Ledge.
read … Big Wind Big Cable
Paper bag use Soars as Plastic Bags banned on Maui, Kauai
CB: …the plastic bag bans on the neighbor islands are proving to increase the use of paper bags which have their own environmental impacts, according to records that show stores are paying more for paper bags.
Paper bags are more detrimental to the environment than plastic when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, acid rain, water consumption and ozone formation at the ground level, according to a 2010 study conducted by ICF International, and commissioned by Green Cities California, an environmental advocacy group.
On Kauai and Maui, retailers are paying about $30,000 more every year to cover the costs of increases in paper bag use, according to Melissa Pavlicek, a spokeswoman for Safeway and Times Supermarket stores. She said there was no data available on the percentage increase in paper bags. On the Big Island, the ban is set to take effect in 2013.
SA: Council’s bag bill makes little sense
read … tree huggers become tree choppers
Bag Distributor Wants Amendments to City Bag Ban
CB: As the Honolulu City Council moves closer to enacting plastic bag legislation, one of the company that would be affected most by it is speaking out against the current version.
K. Yamada Distributors last week submitted a petition raising concerns with the proposed amendment that was eventually moved forward by the Public Works and Sustainability Committee. The measure could become law as soon as the end of the month.
The form letter, signed by KYD President and CEO Dexter Yamada and numerous others, lists the following objections:
- The bill doesn’t allow businesses to keep any portion of the fee to cover increased costs from implementing it
- The bill doesn’t require stores to pass costs along to the consumer
- Providing paper bags on neighbor islands has proven to be very costly; there should be a fee on paper too, not only plastic
read … K Yamada
Akaka Committee to Meet With AWOL Soldier
SA: Daniel McCarley said he reported back to Schofield on Thursday and met with Lt. Col. Carl Michaud, commander of his unit, the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment.
The McCarleys are expected to meet today with Dahlia Melendrez, chief benefits counsel for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, who is in Honolulu, Lori McCarley said.
"She is in town for hearings at the (state) Capitol and wants to meet to discuss Dan's case to prevent this from happening to any other soldiers," she said….
BEING in a military environment at Schofield led to anxiety, which caused nausea, and sometimes vomiting, Daniel McCarley said. The soldier said he refused to be in an environment that made him sick while little to nothing was being done to treat him, and he was AWOL for the month of February and again since March 13….
The soldier said he stayed with friends, camped and went to the beach to find some peace.
read … AWOL
Soft on Crime: Suspect in Arson, Killing of 97-year-old Has 8 Convictions
SA: fter the March 30 fire, CrimeStoppers released the video surveillance, and law enforcement officials received several tips, including one that said Dahilig has a prison gang tattoo, which says "La Familia," on his back.
Police located Dahilig in Ewa Beach on April 3. Police said Dahilig tried to run from officers and attempted to dump drugs and drug paraphernalia. Detectives arrested him on suspicion of arson and manslaughter after interviewing him.
Neighbor Gary Ontai told reporters March 30 that one of the three occupants of the three-bedroom house, Ronald Kawakami, said he thought that burglars used a blowtorch to cut a lock to his shed at the back of the house at 1888 Hoomalolo St. to get at his radio-controlled model plane collection. Kawakami said his home had been burglarized at least seven times.
Five days before the fire, three locks had been placed on a the shed after someone tried to burn through a lock. The shed housed gardening tools and expensive radio-controlled model airplanes.
Hagihara's body was found in the middle bedroom along with one of six cats that lived in the home. She was Kawakami's mother.
Dahilig has eight convictions in Hawaii, including three for burglary, one for robbery and two for drug offenses, according to court records. He was sentenced in 2003 to two concurrent 10-year prison terms for two burglaries.
(If he had served the full 10 years, the victim would still be alive today.)
read … Soft on Crime
Politically Connected Public Housing Resident Calls for State to Ban Smoking in Homes
SA: On April 2, this deplorable status quo was overcome in a vote on House Bill 46 SD2 by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor, chaired by Sen. Clayton Hee. While this decision surely will meet with some protest, let's look at the reasons this vote was a key victory for the protection of public health, taxpayer dollars and fundamental civil rights.
From a personal perspective: I am a disabled public housing resident whose neighbors' secondhand smoke (SHS) has been seeping into my apartment, causing me severe and increasingly serious health issues. It led to my eventual hospitalization, including a procedure necessary to save my life — an expense paid for largely by Medicaid, and thus, the taxpayer.
read … Politically Connected
Crystal meth use drops among workers in isles
SA: Honolulu-based Diagnostic Laboratory Services Inc., which tested 5,892 people in the first quarter, said workplace use of methamphetamine, commonly known as ice, fell to 0.5 percent in the first quarter from 1.1 percent in the year-earlier period….
An even bigger decline was seen in the use of synthetic urine — which dropped to 0.8 percent of those tested from 1.5 percent a year ago…. "We were expecting this (synthetic urine use to drop) as word got out that we can now detect synthetic urine," Linden said….
Positive tests for marijuana and opiates remained unchanged at 3 percent and 0.2 percent in the first quarter versus a year ago, respectively. Cocaine use also was essentially flat at 0.2 percent.
read … Crystal meth use drops among workers in isles
Unions Use Sewage Plant As Endorsement Backdrop
CB: The Hawaii Laborers’ Union Local 368 and Operating Engineers Local Union 3 will announce their pick for mayor tomorrow. And they’re doing it at a sewage treatment plant.
The unions, which claim a combined total local membership of around 8,000, put out a joint media advisory this morning that said representatives would not only unveil their endorsement but also “will address issues with the Sand Island Waste Water Plant treatment facility and how the lack of an additional digester is impacting the craft industries, job-creation and Hawaii’s economy.”
Their preferred candidate will also speak on the issue, “announcing his plans as part of a larger Vision of Honolulu that will be released soon.” What a Vision!
read … Perfect Setting
Nepotism Not Illegal in Hawaii
In law, there are regulations to prevent nepotism (favorable treatment of family members), cronyism (favorable treatment of friends and colleagues), or patronage (favorable treatment of those who reward their superiors) within the civil service.
Notes: The state law specifies equal opportunity for all under the civil service provision. It does not specifically use the terms "nepotism," "cronyism" and "patronage," but the equal opportunity principle may apply. See below.
§76-1 Purposes; merit principle: "(1) Equal opportunity for all in compliance with all laws prohibiting discrimination. No person shall be discriminated against in examination, appointment, reinstatement, reemployment, promotion, transfer, demotion, or removal, with respect to any position when the work may be efficiently performed by the person without hazard or danger to the health and safety of the person or others;"
In addition, state law prohibits public employers from discriminating in hiring.
Hawaii Revised Statutes, Title VII Public Officers and Employees, Chapter 76 Civil Service Law, Part I. General Civil Service Provisions, §76-1 Purposes; merit principle. Visit http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol02_Ch0046-0115/HRS0076/HRS_0076-0001.htm for details.
Also see §89-13 Prohibited practices; evidence of bad faith. Visit http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol02_Ch0046-0115/HRS0089/HRS_0089-0013.htm for details.
Sources: No such law exists.
read … Nepotism
Hawaii judges' pay Lowest in Nation
CB: The salaries of Hawaii's circuit judges — at $136,127 — ranks dead last among other states and the District of Columbia, according to a 2011 report by the National Center for State Courts. That fifty-first lowest ranking reflects an adjustment for cost of living1. With cost of living factored in, the report found Hawaii circuit judges earn $82,134.
In terms of raw ranking, Hawaii's circuit judges fall in the No. 24 spot in the report. Illinois trial court judges earn the most in the nation, both in terms of raw ranking ($178,835) and with cost-of-living adjustments ($186,011), the report found.
Hawaii's high court justices — with $151,118 salaries — rank No. 23 among the states and D.C., while California's high court justices ranked No. 1 with salaries of $218,237.
read … Judge This
What Do Hawaii Lawmakers Have Against Ethics Code?
CB: Take a look at the major charter schools overhaul that's headed to a final vote in the House Tuesday. Senate Bill 2115 would establish a new governance system for the public schools. What's important to remember here is that charter schools in Hawaii use state tax dollars to pay for the education of their students. They're public schools.
Yet the bill exempts the new governing board, charter schools and their governing boards from the state ethics code, as long as they develop their own policies and procedures for gifts, conflicts of interest and contracts consistent with the goals of the ethics code. Why not just make them abide by the ethics code, the way other public officials have to?
Here's an excerpt from testimony from the attorney general:
"These exemptions appear contrary to the mandate in article XIV of the State Constitution, which requires the Legislature to adopt a code of ethics that applies to employees of the State, and members of state boards."
Then take a look at House Bill 2175, which would exempt task force members from "certain requirements, restrictions, and prohibitions of the State's code of ethics."
You might remember that one way Ethics Commission Executive Director Les Kondo got lawmakers riled up last year was by ruling that members of a mortgage foreclosure task force were barred from lobbying on the issue they were advising the state on.
So what do lawmakers do this year, they move to get around the new sheriff in town by, you guessed it, taking another step to limit the reach of the ethics code.
read … No Ethics
Government Health IT Comes to Hawaii
GHIT: Virginia and Hawaii state health information exchanges (HIEs) have gone live with secure messaging using the Direct Project protocols — milestones that begin to deliver on these states’ promises for sharing patient data to improve health care.
Electronically sharing patient data between providers can reduce errors and test duplication of tests and enhance patient safety and efficiency. Direct essentially replaces sending health information via fax.
In Hawaii, 12 physician practices — seven primary care and five specialty practices — are using Direct “push” model as of April 5 to exchange lab results and send and receive patient referrals. The practices include 23 providers, 17 of which are located in the Honolulu area on the island of Oahu and six are located in Hilo on the more rural Big Island, according to Christine Sakuda, executive director of the Hawaii Health Information Exchange.
Hawaii HIE, a non-profit organization started in 2006, has contracted with Medicity to build the exchange infrastructure in phases, starting with the Direct secure messaging capability. Hawaii HIE will also serve as the health information service provider (HISP) to authenticate users to create, transmit and receive secure messages.
read … Government Health IT
Teen Pregnancy Rate Continues to fall
SA:The rate for teenage moms reached its lowest point since record-keeping began in 1940. The rate fell 9 percent to about 34 per 1,000 girls ages 15 through 19. The decline was seen among all racial and ethnic groups.
The CDC report released Tuesday focused on state figures. The authors say the teen declines have been attributed to pregnancy prevention efforts. They note that a recent government survey showed more use of contraception by teens.
Even as it leads the nation with 55 teen births per 1,000 girls, Mississippi's rate has been falling like everywhere else. It dropped 21 percent over three years. New Hampshire has the lowest teen birth rate at just under 16.
Since 1991, the overall teen rate has dropped by 44 percent. Without that decline, the authors calculated, there would have been 3.4 million more babies born to girls by 2010….
27th Hawaii 32.5 per 1000
read … teen pregnancy
Honolulu Residents Abuse City’s New 311 Service
CB: Information Technology Deputy Director Forest Frizzell said in an interview when I asked him about use of the app about six weeks ago:
It’s being used, and unfortunately, and I’m kinda bummed out about it, it’s been abused. Our No. 1 complaint on the 311 site right now is abandoned vehicles, so I did a follow-up meeting with the staff that handled that. They’ve been out, busting their butts going out and checking out on all these vehicles that have been coming through the 311 site. Almost all of them are current, the safety check’s current, it’s in a legal parking spot. They think it’s parking disputes. We’re in a very congested city, and they’re using this app for that. So, it’s kind of frustrating, because it’s very difficult to get a government to release stuff like this.
read … Honolulu Residents Abuse City’s New 311 Service
Long lines shift from DMV to Health Department
KITV: Long lines that ensued at DMV locations last month following new driver's license requirements are now plaguing the state Health Department's vital records office, as frustrated residents seek copies of their birth and marriage certificates.
On Monday, wait times at the Punchbowl Street office averaged 60 minutes or more as a line stretched out the door. Before the new driver's license identification requirements began March 5, it took an average of 15 to 20 minutes to obtain a copy of a birth, marriage or death certificate.
read … Bureaucracy
Harbors Dep’t Buys Useless $75K Drone
In 2006, the state DOT was awarded a $1.4 million harbor security grant from the federal government to install high-tech security measures at Honolulu Harbor where more than 90 percent of the state's merchandise arrives every year.
Roughly $75,000 of that money went to purchase an unmanned aerial vehicle, known as a UAV or drone, which arrived in Honolulu last June, Meisenzahl said.
It's supposed to be used to transmit aerial video of harbor facilities, but the craft has never left the ground and sits in a state DOT Harbors office nine months later.
"The UAV has never flown. It's very unfortunate. This is an example of government not working," Meisenzahl said.
"Unfortunately, we never checked if we could fly a UAV around Honolulu harbor. And we cannot," Meisenzahl said, noting that the FAA said the state can't fly the drone at the harbor because it's too close to Honolulu International Airport.
read … droning on
Occupy Honolulu expands encampment to Central Pacific Bank
TDN: Occupy Honolulu's usual "Financial Friday" foray into Honolulu's financial district took another step forward when the group decided to encamp on the sidewalk outside Central Pacific Plaza overnight. While maintaining an encampment at Thomas Square (in its 154th day of continuous encampment) a mile away, a group expanded its reach to the corner of King and Alakea Streets.
HFP: Bailout: $60M Loss as Feds Sell Interest in Central Pacific Bank
read … Central Pacific Bank
State offering mortgage assistance to first time homebuyers
KHON: According to the state, nearly 60 percent of potential homebuyers earn enough to cover the monthly payments. but only half of those people can afford the down payment, usually 20 percent of the cost of the property. the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation, or HHFDC, is offering a 30 year mortgage loan through its hula mae program that can help….
The state has 43 million dollars available for the program which can help up to 145 potential homeowners. applicants still need to meet all the requirements needed to get a mortgage loan, which are now much stricter since the housing bust that swept most of the country.
Pro Publica: 16 page feature on Foreclosed Floridians who Moved to Puna and Live in Tent
SA: State offering new buyers help with down payments
read … Hula Mae
Allegiant Air to Start Hawaii Flights
WSJ: The ultradiscount-airline business is spreading to the lucrative market of Hawaii, as Allegiant Air plans to start low-cost service to Honolulu from Las Vegas and Fresno, Calif.
read … Wall Street Journal
How Hawaiian princes brought Surfing to Britain in 1890
UKDM: Unearthed long-lost letter thought to be earliest report of surfing in Britain
Read … Surfing Yorkshire