How Safe are Hawaii Hospitals?
Liz Larson Announces Hawaii State Senate Campaign
Lingle Celebrates B-Day With 2,000 Supporters Statewide
66 Republicans Running for Office in Hawaii
Supreme Court Hearing: The Next Big Hawaii Water Case
DHHL Tax Case: Final Brief in Corboy v Louie
9th Circuit: Hawaii's Regulation Of Commercial Beach Weddings Does Not Violate First Amendment
Rick Hamada: 5 Questions with News Maker Robert Thomas
Elected Officials Pressure Democratic Party to Lay off Thielen Lawsuit
CB: Democrats are in increasing turmoil over l'affaire Thielen.
Some worry it is making the party a laughing stock. How democratic is it, many say, to go to court to stop someone from seeking office?
Others feel that the party has the responsibility to make sure its candidates uphold its values and show a demonstrated commitment — something that they say Thielen has not done. The feeling is that she is a Laura-come-lately….
Party members tell Civil Beat that top elected officials at both the state and federal level have tried to persuade Party Chair Dante Carpenter and Oahu County Chair Tony Gill from going through with the court action. They are worried about party unity as the 2012 elections enter a critical period….
The Hawaii Republican Party is calling attention to their opponents' disarray — pointing out how cash-strapped Democrats planned to charge candidates $500 a minute to hold rallies at the state convention over Memorial Day Weekend. The plan was later dropped.
Though he opposes going to court over Thielen, Dame honors the decision of his party's leadership, which was reached through a deliberative process and majority vote.
But Dame, who considers legal action "foolish" and "a fantasy," is mostly concerned about whether his party is doing the right thing.
read … Laughingstock
Star-Adv: Solar tax credits may be too costly
SA: Unfortunately, state leaders missed an opportunity to make a correction during the last legislative session, leaving the state short of tax funds for longer than necessary.
Last week's report from the state Council on Revenues shows how much of a stake the public has in these tax policies. The council knocked the revenue growth forecast for next year down more than two percentage points, from the 7.5 percent figure predicted in March to its current 5.3 percent forecast. Because state lawmakers were basing their budgeting on the earlier projection, the state now finds itself $110 million short.
In that context, the revenue loss from the solar tax credits seems quite significant. An annual loss of about $70 million in tax revenues is attributable to the tax credits issued to homeowners and businesses that install solar photo- voltaic systems. That deficit will be felt acutely as the state administration figures out how to rebalance its ledger.
Kalbert Young, the state's budget director, said the likely mechanism will be postponing new hires, withholding appropriations for some projects and delaying the restoration of funds for programs cut because of the recession. Even lacking the details at this point, that sounds pretty grim — and recouping at least some of the lost $70 million would have taken the edge off the pain.
House Bill 2417, which sought to curb the benefit, got to a conference committee but was hung up in a larger dispute over tax credits and never emerged.
Conferees said they had agreed on a formula for gradually decreasing credits for non-utility solar installations, phasing them out in 2018. The bill also sought to keep claimants from gaming the system by clarifying the limits on qualifying credits. Further, utility-scale projects would be credited taxes according to power produced rather than the cost of the installation, an incentive lasting for a 10-year term.
These fixes were sorely needed, and it's frustrating that they didn't get enacted. The lost tax revenues could have been better spent immediately, which underscores the need to take the revised draft and accelerate its passage in next year's legislative session.
read … Star-Adv Editorial
Council passes bill for $450M line of credit to rail project
SA: Council members Tom Berg and Ann Kobayashi voted against the bill, and members Romy Cachola and Tulsi Gabbard voted yes with reservations.
The bill, which goes to Mayor Peter Carlisle for his consideration, would allow the city to borrow up to $450 million for the $5.27 billion rail project using commercial paper, or short-term debt sold on financial markets.
The Council also passed a $21 million HART operating budget and $491.5 million capital budget.
Kobayashi and Berg led the charge in grilling HART and city officials about the need for the bill. Kobayashi questioned how the city could give HART the ability to tap the money when it has no plan on how it would pay it back.
read … $450M just in case of the inevitable
Council OKs nearly $2 billion budget
SA: The City Council voted 8-1 on Wednesday to approve a $1.96 billion operating budget and $620 million capital improvements budget for the new fiscal year that begins July 1.
The operating budget is only slightly larger than the $1.93 billion plan introduced by Mayor Peter Carlisle in March, while the capital improvements budget is about 7 percent more than Carlisle's $577 million proposal.
As in the Carlisle budget plan, the Council also voted not to raise, or drop, property tax rates. Increases in property valuations in key Oahu neighborhoods are expected to help bring in added revenue to offset the small bump from the current year's $1.93 billion budget. The budgets will go to Carlisle's office for consideration.
SA: Fewer to get old-home tax break
read … Council OKs nearly $2 billion budget
Rail Contractor Uses Public Money to Lobby Council?
CB: Honolulu City Council member Romy Cachola is questioning whether a public relations consultant hired by a city contractor to promote Honolulu rail inappropriately used public money to lobby him to support the controversial $5.2 billion project.
The consultant, Bennette Misalucha, pushed Filipino rail supporters to track down Cachola, who is also Filipino, at the Kalihi Open Market last week and pressure him about rail, raising concerns about racial politicking.
Misalucha even included directions to the "outreach event," a map and instructions for members to wear their "Filipinos for Rail" shirts….
Misalucha is the president of Red Monarch Strategies Inc., a public relations firm hired as a subconsultant on the rail project. Her firm is among nine HART acknowledges were hired by Parsons Brinckerhoff to do public involvement. Red Monarch's one-year contract is worth $168,559. In 2010, Red Monarch was hired to do "Community outreach and presentations" for $156,625, a previous Civil Beat investigation found.
read … Your Tax Dollars at Work
Honolulu Rail Cost Rising By $2.7M
CB: The HART board moments ago approved a change orders totaling that amount. The money is on top of the previous estimated cost for the project and comes out of the construction contingency of about $800 million.
The change order is related to the section of the guideway that swings close to Waipahu High School. HART is going to spend $2.67 million to relocate and replace some school facilities.
read … Pocket Change
Council Chair Accuses Mayor of 'Quid Pro Quo' Politics on Sewage Project
CB: Council Chair Ernie Martin on Wednesday accused Carlisle's administration of offering a council member — no one will say who — favorable treatment for infrastructure projects in their district if they voted to remove a budget proviso Carlisle says would delay work on an important sewage system expansion.
read … Play for Sludge
Turtle Bay manager Appointed to Burial Council
CB: The general manager of Turtle Bay Resort has been appointed to the Oahu Burial Council, making it possible for the committee to meet for the first time after a five-month hiatus.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie named Danna Holck to the committee this week, said Donalyn Dela Cruz, his spokeswoman. The council has been unable to meet due to a lack of a quorum.
Holck, who did not return a call for comment, qualifies for one of the seats reserved for a large landowner or developer.
SA: Realtors endorse Hannemann
SA: Turtle Bay Resort expansion draws labor, environmental disapproval
read … Oahu Burial Council Back in Business After Five-Month Break
'Mass exodus' of lawyers from prosecutor's office
HNN: The man challenging City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro in November's election said there's been a "mass exodus" of lawyers from the office since Kaneshiro took over about 18 months ago.
"The flight of deputy prosecutors from the prosecutor's office is symptomatic of a very serious problem within the office," said Kevin Takata, the former chief of the trials division and 23-year employee in the prosecutor's office until he was not retained when Kaneshiro took over in October of 2010.
Takata said about 52 deputies, roughly half the lawyers in the prosecutor's office, have departed in the year and half that Kaneshiro has been in charge.
"This loss jeopardizes the safety of our community by creating a shortage of experienced deputies to handle serious cases, resulting in cases being lost that shouldn't be lost," Takata said.
Kaneshiro disagreed, saying, "Public safety has never been jeopardized in this office."
Kaneshiro said the number of lawyers who have left during his term is more like 36 – one third of the lawyers on staff -- if you subtract the 11 he did not retain when he first took over and another five who followed former Prosecutor Peter Carlisle to the mayor's office.
read … Kaneshiro
Deedy Motions, Video to be Considered by Court July 13
SA: A state judge has made public a request by federal agent Christopher Deedy to dismiss his murder charge in a fatal shooting at a McDonald's restaurant in Waikiki last year.
But the judge kept private portions of the court document referring to events depicted on the surveillance videos of the shooting.
Circuit Judge Karen Ahn granted a prosecution request last week, sealing the restaurant's videos, and said she will release the defense motion but redact the defense references to the content of the videos.
The judge is scheduled to hear the dismissal motion on July 13. At that time, she will make public the redacted portions of the defense motion, she said.
She may also decide at that time whether the videos are admissible as evidence and whether they can be made public.
read … Deedy
Abercrombie Should Just Say No to SB2424
CB: Hawaii, already notorious for excessive over-regulation of business, even small businesses, is on the brink of enacting a law that would quickly drive more than 20 companies out of business. This is ironic since the threatened businesses – Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) – exist only to help small businesses comply with the massive number of confusing and oppressive regulations that strangle business in the first place and obtain buying power that is not usually available to small businesses.
I am president and CEO of HiHR, one of Hawaii’s 30 or so PEOs. My company is not the largest PEO here. But we serve about 300 businesses and 5,000 employees.
read … Veto the PEO Bill
Are Hawaii Lobbyists Required to Disclose Spending?
CB: Subject categories are so broad as to be virtually useless. See sample report, where the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association reported spending $3,630.45 on three lobbyists covering 18 categories in two months: http://hawaii.gov/ethics/lobby/orgexp/H/ORG-H0088/ORG-H0088-2011-02.pdf
read … Useless
Campaign Spending Commission survey seeks public feedback
ILind: The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission (“Commission”) would appreciate your opinion and time to help evaluate and improve the effectiveness of our operations and communications.
Our web-based survey is easy to use and will take about five to ten minutes to complete. You will be asked questions about your relationship with the Commission or background information, communication with or access to the Commission, education and training employed by the Commission, public funding, and other miscellaneous matters. The results of the survey will be reported in the aggregate form and you will remain anonymous.
read … Feedback
VIDEO: Hunters speak out against plan to fence Ka’u Forest
BIVN: NAALEHU, Hawaii: It was a heated public meeting in Naalehu on Saturday, as hunters from across the island converged on a meeting at the community center about a plan to manage the 61,641-acre Ka‘ū Forest Reserve.
MORE: DLNR seeks comment on Ka‘u Forest Reserve draft EA
HTH: Aerial hunting ban gets OK
read … Ungulates
State set to lease out Kewalo Basin
SA: HCDA proposes to lease the harbor to California-based marina operator Almar Management Inc. and a partner doing business as KB Marina LP.
The Almar partnership would finance $22 million in long-planned work to replace all piers and docks, increase berth spaces by 100 to 243 and add other new amenities including a sewage pump-out system and barriers in the harbor to minimize the affect of ocean swells on piers.
Almar anticipates finishing the upgrades in five years and would pay HCDA roughly $45 million in rent over 50 years….
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which is receiving ownership of property along the Ewa side of the harbor including the former Fisherman's Wharf Restaurant site, asked HCDA's board to delay a decision so that OHA can better understand and plan for how the harbor changes will affect its property. (They want a cut of the action)
read … State set to lease out Kewalo Basin
$200M System to Chill Downtown Buildings
SA: Air conditioning is a voracious consumer of electricity. On Oahu, more than 20 percent of the electricity sold is used just to cool buildings. Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning (HSWAC) has proposed a solution for downtown that precludes the need to cool water with electricity, one that could save more than 70 million kilowatt hours of power annually.
Applying the same technology that has been cooling buildings in Toronto, Stockholm and Amsterdam, the Honolulu SWAC team has proposed a district cooling system that will serve the downtown vicinity by 2014.
This fall, it will begin installing a pipeline four miles offshore Kakaako that will pump seawater from a depth of 1,700 feet to an onshore cooling station. There, the 44-degree water will pass through a heat exchanger that transfers the seawater’s coldness to a pipeline of freshwater that circulates in a closed loop. The chilled freshwater connects to downtown buildings’ existing air conditioning infrastructure, providing natural AC that doesn’t require large, electricity-hungry chillers in each building.
The seawater, slightly warmer than when it left the ocean, returns home through a diffuser at 330 to 425 feet — deep enough that no coral ecosystems are affected. The underwater pipe actually becomes an artificial reef, providing substrate to new coral and shelter to fish.
The Honolulu district cooling system has a capacity equivalent to 25,000 tons of ice, enough to cool some 40 buildings. Currently, more than 18,000 tons have been reserved for customers, including the First Hawaiian Center, Hawaiian Electric Co., One Waterfront Towers and the Finance Factors buildings. Those who have signed on recognize the savings they’ll reap thanks to the stabilization of long-term energy costs.
Electricity is versatile, but it is difficult and costly to make and store. The genius behind SWAC technology is that the cold seawater can chill buildings 24/7, much like solar water heaters provide hot showers even after the sun has set. The project’s seawater system design engineer, Makai Ocean Engineering, also designed the deep water pipes off Keahole Point that have successfully provided cooling for the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority in Kona.
The district cooling system will generate an estimated $200 million in construction spending, creating more than 900 new construction jobs. …
read … $200M