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Sunday, July 01, 2012
July 1, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:19 PM :: 17266 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

400 Rally Against Obamacare at State Capitol

Can a Tax Increase be in the Works?

Lingle: Akaka Bill Will End These Lawsuits Forever

Complete List of Cancelled School Bus Routes

Feds: Hee Family Skims Millions from Sandwich Isles Communications

SA: New Federal Communications Commission rules that go into effect Monday will reduce by about 70 percent the amount Sandwich Isles can draw from a ratepayer-funded account that helps cover the expense of running phone lines to rural and remote areas. Sandwich Isles, which had been receiving about $830 per customer per month from the Universal Service Fund, would see that amount capped at $250 per line per month at the end of a three-year phase-in period, according to the FCC. Sandwich Isles filed for a waiver from the new regulations, but the FCC has not yet ruled on the request….

In a letter dated June 6, the FCC asked Sandwich Isles for more details on millions of dollars paid by the company to several of its affiliates, "each of which appears to be owned and/or operated by Mr. Hee, CEO of Sandwich Isles, or his family members," according to the letter.

"In its initial waiver filing and its submissions since, Sandwich Isles has failed to be forthcoming regarding its affiliates, the finances of these affiliates, the basis of Sandwich Isles' payments to these affiliates, and the details of Sandwich Isles' agreements with these companies," the FCC's Gillett wrote in the letter.

"Moreover, the information available to us raises significant questions about whether Sandwich Isles could be obtaining the services it receives from its affiliates at much lower rates from unaffiliated sources," Gillett wrote.

As Explained: Sandwich Isles Communications: Political Connections Pay Off

read … Looting his own company

Justice Reinvestment: Kauai Prosecutors Office Employees Benefit from Prison Diversion Contract

KGI: After many deferrals over several weeks, the Kaua‘i County Council on Wednesday voted in favor of Council Vice Chair JoAnn Yukimura’s request for council approval to ask the county Board of Ethics for an investigation of POHAKU, a diversion program offered by the county Office of Prosecuting Attorney.

At the crux of the matter is the question whether OPA, headed by County Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, benefited from a contract with Strategic Justice Partners, a for-profit Mainland company which provides diversion programs. If true, it could mean a potential violation of the Kaua‘i County Charter….

Adding to the many pieces of the puzzle, the company which had a contract with OPA while De Costa was in office employed Kurt Berris in a management position, according to Iseri-Carvalho.

Iseri-Carvalho said that company does not exist anymore as it went bankrupt, but Berris is still dealing with OPA — he has ownership in SPJ.

However, OPA dealt with SPJ payments in a different way than De Costa did with Berris’ former employer. The deposits were made directly to SPJ rather than in OPA’s name, according to Iseri-Carvalho.

One of the issues raised by Bynum was a potential charter violation if OPA benefits from a contract.

He said he had concerns with “the use of county address as the address for the registered agent of a private business.”

The board should investigate to find out if SPJ is using OPA staff as agents and to find out if there are any potential benefits for the staff or agency, Bynum said.

Read … Soft on Crime Pays Off!

Cayetano: $26M in Rail PR Contracts Line Pockets of Former Mufi Staffers

Cayetano: It’s unprecedented. I would say $20 million or more. The $11 million doesn’t include $15 million spent by PRP. When [City Councilmembers] asked [HART] why [they were] spending all this on PR, [they were] told the FTA required it. They do not.

If I win, the one thing I will not be paying for is the stuff they paid for PR people who were on Mufi’s team. People move around between being subcontractors and employees. The flow of information goes like this: [He details a pathway--Former Hannemann staffers who get highly paid jobs with equally highly paid consultants and feed the PR machine.] Hannemann’s former campaign chairs, how are they worth $300,000-$400,000 a year? To set up a speakers’ bureau? The public is entitled to know the names of these people.

read … Honolulu Weekly

Star-Adv: Federal Funds for Rail Should Not be Stopped

SA: At least seven years in the making, Honolulu's final funding plan for a 20-mile rail line between Kapolei and Ala Moana has been forwarded to the Federal Transit Administration for monetary partnership of a project that has been decades in developing.

The agency's approval of $1.55 billion in federal dollars is critical to moving forward with the transporttion necessity, and it should not be torpedoed by public or political cold feet.

The FTA's approval of what is called the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) after a 30-day review promises to be a huge milestone for the rail project.

That would be followed by a one-month review by the White House, then 60 days by Congress, which can review the FFGA but is not allowed to tamper with it.

Staffs of the FTA and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation have worked closely together in recent weeks to complete the full agreement of federal grants to follow. No transportation project in the country has reached this level only to be scrapped.

SA: HART chief wants more rail seats, fare gates

read … Scrap

DoE Robs Military and Substitute Teachers to Pay off Colluding Bus Companies

CB: With only a month before the next school year starts, almost 2,400 students will have to find a new ride to class.

The Hawaii Department of Education on Saturday finalized a list of 103 bus routes that will be cut to make up part of a $17 million shortfall in transportation services. Oahu bore the brunt of the cuts.

As they have the past few years, school officials filled the bulk of the budget hole by diverting millions of dollars from federal funding sources. However, the department has yet to articulate the impact of shifting that cash around, which concerned Board of Education members at their last meeting.

It's unclear if the result will mean fewer pencils or not paying substitute teachers, stalled learning initiatives or what exactly. The board may learn more at its meeting Tuesday, when the district will provide an update on student transportation services.

A big chunk of the deficit will come from $8 million in so-called federal Impact Aid money that is over and above what the district was expecting. Impact Aid is a program that provides funding for a portion of the educational costs of federally connected students, which in Hawaii primarily means military.

The money is given to the state to spend however it sees fit because in theory these families are paying less taxes due to federal exemptions. Since Hawaii no longer has a line item to pay substitute teachers, the state has relied on this funding in part for that purpose.

read … School Bus

DoE May Change School Day Schedule to Help Colluding Bus Companies

SA: The route eliminations and consolidations will save about $5.5 million in the coming school year, the Department of Education said.

The rest of the shortfall for school bus service in the coming school year will be covered by federal funds and by taking from other DOE programs. All the transferred funds are one-time pots of money, which has officials worrying they could be in a similarly difficult spot in the 2013-14 school year.

"Where do we find this level of money next year when these one-time sources aren't there?" said Randy Moore, assistant superintendent for school facilities and support services, adding that the department is looking at a host of long-term strategies to cut costs. Among them: staggering school start times.

reads … Turn the whole state inside out to save crooked contractors

Roberts switched views to uphold health care law

CBS: Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court's four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama's health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law, according to two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations.

Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said. Ironically, Justice Anthony Kennedy - believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law - led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold.

"He was relentless," one source said of Kennedy's efforts. "He was very engaged in this."

But this time, Roberts held firm. And so the conservatives handed him their own message which, as one justice put it, essentially translated into, "You're on your own."

The conservatives refused to join any aspect of his opinion, including sections with which they agreed, such as his analysis imposing limits on Congress' power under the Commerce Clause, the sources said.

Instead, the four joined forces and crafted a highly unusual, unsigned joint dissent. They deliberately ignored Roberts' decision, the sources said, as if they were no longer even willing to engage with him in debate.

NYT: Reluctance in Some States Over Medicaid Expansion

FT: Republicans see way to repeal Obamacare

read … Inside Story

Suicide #1 Cause of Injury Death in Hawaii

SA: Suicide was the top cause of fatal injuries among local residents over the past five years, outpacing deaths from car crashes, falls, drownings, homicide or poisoning, according to state Health Department data. But few people are aware of the extent of the problem or what to do about it….

The number of suicides spiked toward the end of the past decade, peaking at 195 statewide in 2010, up from 129 in 2007 and by far the highest total in 19 years of record-keeping, according to Dan Galanis, epidemiologist in the Injury Prevention and Control Program. The total fell to 169 last year. That is close to one suicide every other day across the islands, with residents in rural areas most at risk.

"Suicide turns out to be the leading cause of mortality from injuries for state residents," Galanis said, accounting for almost a quarter of all fatal injuries in the past five years. The youngest victims were 10 years old but 95 percent were ages 19 and up, he said. Males outnumbered females 3 to 1.

Not Mentioned: Highest suicide rate in US: Hawaii DoE highschoolers

read … Suicide

Why Wind Turbines Aren’t Turning

Here are several reasons why some or all turbines may not be operating at times:

* Wind conditions. If wind speed is too low (less than 6 mph), the turbines cannot operate. If the wind speed is too high (55 mph or greater), they are shut down to minimize wear and tear on the machines. Although the turbines are in the same general area, the wind resource may vary at different elevations, allowing some turbines to operate while others may not.

* Maintenance. Work is done on each turbine on a routine basis that requires the turbine to be shut down for safety reasons.

* Curtailment by Maui Electric Co. Depending on the electrical needs of the island, some of the turbines may be curtailed. This is normally expected at night when the electrical demand is low, but periodically happens during the day.

read … Not turning

Billionaire Omidyar Denies Beach Access

DN: by Hawaii law, the beaches belong to all of us, and access is guaranteed….

…on Kauai, journalist Joan Conrow has been following a growing controversy over beach access denied….

Joan’s articles can be found here. They also note that initially vehicles would be towed away if parked on the road nearby. As I understand it, beach access is a right of anyone, not just those who live within walking distance. And there is a suggestion that a security guard may have been stationed at the right-of-way specifically to thwart public access—read Joan’s articles.

Ok, so we have a not-so-unusual, and somewhat ugly, situation wherein it appears that a landowner does not want to grant the beach access previously agreed to. It happens often enough. What makes this blockade different?

Joan writes that the property is owned by “…Ohana Hanalei LLC, an affiliate of Montage Resorts, an ultra luxury hotel developer whose properties are owned by eBay and Civil Beat founder Pierre Omidyar….”

Joan discovered that the land in question is owned by the same Pierre Omidyar (@pierre) who advises his 410,832 Twitter followers to “Be you. Be cool.”

read … Send Him a Tweet

Only Abercrombie, Inouye to Show at Democratic Convention

PR: Across the way, Republican former Gov. Linda Lingle says she will not attend the GOP convention held a week before the Democrats', in Tampa, Fla.

Her campaign rightly reasons that the time would be better spent back here campaigning for the U.S. Senate. Left unsaid is the obvious statement that would be made with Lingle, who is pitching herself as "bipartisan," appearing in a sea of "Elect Romney President" banners in the Florida sunshine.

Former U.S. Rep. Ed Case, who is running for the Democratic nomination, says if he wins in August, he will also be home campaigning against Lingle for the Senate.

"I'll either be in the midst of an intense general election campaign or back earning a living in the real world," said Case.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono's office reports that the congresswoman will also skip. Hirono is in the same boat as Case. If she wins, she is up against Lingle and may need to be here in Hawaii going door to door instead of trying on funny hats in Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium.

Also undecided is U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who is expected to face former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou in a repeat contest for Hawaii's 1st Congressional District.

Hawaii's No. 1 and 2 top Democrats, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and Gov. Neil Abercrombie, report they will be there.

read … Political Conventions

UH faculty union leader announces intent to step down in 2015

ILind: Musto has been at the UHPA helm for over 30 years. According to testimony last year in support of his appointment to the Education Commission of the States, he joined UHPA as director in 1980, although a Star-Advertiser profile last year dated his tenure to 1979.

In addition to his duties as executive director, Musto served as the union’s chief negotiator during bargaining with the state. The union has been involved in two strikes under his leadership. During Musto’s tenure, UHPA has also developed considerable political clout, and has backed its political endorsements with cash and other forms of campaign support for its candidates of choice.

UHPA directors received a memo from Musto discussing major issues to be faced over the next three years, including negotiating a new contract and planning for the transition to a new executive director. The board approved releasing Musto from his regular duties over the next year in order to work on that transition plan, which is scheduled to be considered by the UHPA board in May 2013.

read … UH faculty union leader announces intent to step down in 2015

Waikiki parade salutes the military on Sunday

KITV: Mayor Peter Carlisle invites everyone to Waikiki on Sunday, July 1 to honor our military veterans and service members at the Mayor’s 2nd Annual Celebration Parade and Sunset on the Beach.
The parade begins at 6 p.m. on Sunday at Saratoga Road and proceeds down Kalakaua Avenue to Kapiolani Park. Kalakaua Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic at 5:30 p.m.

Read … Parade

Professional Surrender Monkey thrilled by Possibility of Military Cuts

SA: The pending sequestration cuts to the national military budget amount to 15 percent. Fifteen percent of 18.4 percent would result in a 2.8 percent cut to Hawaii's GDP. Nothing to be wished for but hardly draconian, and it seems likely even that won't happen. The strategic rebalancing of American forces known as the "pivot to Asia" may well result in an increase in the military's presence here.

Some in Congress are now attempting to preserve deficit reductions resulting from sequestration without cutting military spending. They would do this by shifting the pending military cuts over to social services. This would be in addition to the cuts to social services already agreed upon and would affect as many as 400,000 of Hawaii's people, everyone from seniors receiving Medicaid to pre-schoolers benefitting from Headstart. This would have a far greater impact on Hawaii than the pending military cuts. Federal spending on social services in our state amounts to $5.6 billion, more than twice as much as comes from Pentagon procurement contracts.

In 2010, I contributed a newspaper commentary proposing that defense spending be put on the deficit-cutting table and advocating support for the 2010 report of the Sustainable Defense Task Force, "Debt, Deficits & Defense, A Way Forward" ("Defense spending needs to be put on the table," Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, Sept. 19, 2010).

To my and others' surprise, defense spending now actually is on the table, and the task force plan is more relevant than ever.

read … Put the Americans on Welfare, they won't even notice the head-choppers

Lunatics Claim it is unethical for Council Members to not listen to Lunatics

HTH: Hawaii County Council members Dennis Onishi and Donald Ikeda are both facing an ethics complaint targeting their attendance records.

Terri Napeahi, vice president of the Pele Defense Fund, filed the complaint with the county Board of Ethics Committee on June 14.

Napeahi cites the absence of the Hilo council members during recent testimony regarding geothermal power and their attendance rate during votes.

According to figures provided by Chairman Dominic Yagong’s office, the two council members have the worst records when it comes to casting their votes on the nine-member council.

Onishi has missed 30 percent of the 1,557 votes taken in committee and council meetings between Dec. 6, 2010, and April 18, 2012, and Ikeda has missed 23 percent of the votes during that time period.

Percentage of missed votes for the other council members are: Vice Chairman Angel Pilago, 15 percent; J Yoshimoto and Pete Hoffman, 12 percent; Fred Blas, 7 percent; Brittany Smart and Yagong, 3 percent; Brenda Ford, 1 percent….

Onishi attributed recent absences to marathon public testimony sessions that have pushed meetings into the evening hours.

“I know in the past couple council meetings … testimony has been for eight hours,” he said.

read … Harassed

80,000 EW Center Alumni Spread Across Asia

SA: Thanks to the hard work and diligence of East-West Center teachers, scholars, leaders and students, Asian nations are far more peaceful, democratic and just than they were before the creation of the center by Congress in 1960. Brutal military dictatorships have fallen in Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia and been replaced by civilian governments that are leading their people toward economic prosperity and the establishment of the rule of law.

In recent months, an incredibly hopeful development has occurred in Burma where the military dictatorship of Burma released its fiercest critic, Aung San Suu Kyi, from house arrest and asked her to lead her opposition party in free elections as a first step in establishing democracy in that country. East-West Center programs have helped promote that hopeful development as well as the advancement of freedom throughout Asia.

With 80,000 of its alumni spread across Asia, serving as political leaders, journalists, teachers, judges, lawyers and business leaders, it is certain that the East-West Center has significantly contributed to the democratization and prosperity of Asia. In fact, five alumni have served as presidents and prime ministers of major Asian nations, including the present leaders of India and Malaysia. Many more alumni have served as cabinet ministers, judges and educational and business leaders.

Since 2001, the East-West Center has further advanced peace in Asia through its Asian International Justice Initiative. Partnering with the Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center, the center has trained judges for the Cambodia War Crimes Tribunal to help bring justice for the hundreds of thousands of Cambodians who were victims of the genocide perpetrated by the infamous Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s. It has also helped to televise the work of the tribunal throughout Cambodia to help bring truth and reconciliation to that developing nation….

read … E-W Center


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