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Friday, September 21, 2012
September 21, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:28 PM :: 3317 Views

American Soldier: Djou Unveils Second TV Spot

$1B Short: Obama 2013 Budget Cuts Hawaii Obamacare Funds

'Critical habitat': Feds Seize Control of 67 square miles on Oahu; Maui Next

Feds Take Over OSHA Inspection from DLIR

Wanna Buy a House? Federal Funds Back $6400 Hawaii Giveaway

Feds Refuse to Fund Rail Until After Election

SA: Uncertainty about the outcome of the Hono­lulu mayoral election may have prompted the Federal Transit Authority to delay its decision on whether to award federal funds to the city for its planned rail transit project.

Hawaii officials say they have been told by staff with the FTA that the agency will not sign off on the grant agreement until after the November election.

Former Gov. Ben Caye­tano is making a strong run for Hono­lulu mayor, and emerged as the top vote-getter in the August primary election. Caye­tano has promised he will stop the rail project if he is elected.

The FTA said Thursday that a $1.55 billion federal funding agreement for the stalled Hono­lulu rail project could be signed by the end of the year, which would be about three months later than the city had planned.

CB: Honolulu Rail Delegation Seeks To Smooth Concerns In D.C.

read … Mayoral election slows feds on funding

Abercrombie Loses Another Communications Director, Resignation Count Hits 19

CB: Jim Boersema, communications director for Gov. Neil Abercrombie, will leave his position at the end of this month.

Boersema is the second communications director to serve Abercrombie, who has been in office for less than two years.

"I've got other things I want to do," Boersema told Civil Beat Thursday. "I love Neil, I think he's trying his best. I came in to help turn things around, and I think he has. It's my one year."

Boersema said he would continue in his roles as chair of Unity House and Olelo Community Media….

By August … the number (of resignations) had grown to 17. They include two directors each for the departments of Public Safety, Health, Hawaiian Home Lands and Human Resources Development.

Should Gary Hooser, director of Environmental Quality Control, be elected to the Kauai County Council this November, that would make 19 including Boersema.

read … Rats Leaping from Sinking Ship

Lingle 52% – Hirono 43%

PBN: If the election was today, who would get your vote for U.S. senator from Hawaii?

  • Mazie Hirono 42%
  • Linda Lingle 53%
  • Undecided 3%
  • No opinion 1%
  • Votes Cast: 1014

CB: ‘Inouye and Lingle: A Great Team’

Borreca: Lingle's biggest hurdle is at top of GOP ticket

read … Lingle Wins

Pay to Play: PRP Buys $332K of Anti-Cayetano Ads

CB: The Pacific Resource Partnership this week bought its first slate of ads since the primary election.

Broadcast stations’ files show that the pro-rail group spent nearly $332,000 on TV spots that will start airing next week on KHON, KITV and KFVE.

CB: Super PACs Dump Nearly $1 Million Into TV Ads

read … They’re Baaack!

PLDC Plows Ahead Slowly

CB: Gone were the couple hundred critics that spilled out of the small boardroom in the Kalanimoku building in downtown Honolulu last month, toting anti-PLDC signs and making passionate speeches about how the PLDC needed to be stopped.

Instead, a handful of board members and the PLDC’s three employees convened to review minutes of prior meetings, discuss a proposed strategic plan and get briefed on the public meetings that were held to hear comments on draft rules. About 30 people from the public were in attendance. The air was subdued….

to help quell the public uproar, they’ve proposed a strategic plan for the PLDC in order to clarify its “vision, mission, goals and values" that puts public benefits as the top priority, according to a statement released by Solomon earlier this week. …

Much of it clarifies what is already in the law, stressing that the PLDC must comply with the Chapter 343 environmental review process, the Historic Preservation law and Sunshine law.

The plan also says that the PLDC must comply with a landmark 2009 law that protects lands held in trust for Native Hawaiians. According to the law, ceded lands can’t be sold without a two-thirds vote by both Hawaii’s House and Senate.

Any parcel of land that the PLDC is seeking to develop must also be approved by the Board of Land and Natural Resources or the agency holding the title to the land.

What is new in the strategic plan is a guideline that says the PLDC will not develop agricultural lands that are eligible for designation as "important agricultural lands." ….

The PLDC also has a proposed mission statement: “The mission of the Public Land Development Corporation is to create and facilitate partnerships between state and county agencies, departments, businesses, non-profits, and community groups to improve our communities, create jobs, and expand public benefit.”

PDF: PLDC Strategic Plan

read … PLDC Plows Ahead, Slowly

Yes to wider schools accreditation

SA: …the task of accrediting 159 additional schools over a five-year period is a daunting one.

One underpinning challenge for the DOE is a fiscal one. At the same board meeting, agency officials told the board that they are anticipating federal budget cuts. These could come as early as January, with the most painful hits due in the 2013-14 school year.

This surely means some difficult choices lie ahead.

The department needs to give its books a steely-eyed review and find room in the annual budget for the half-million-dollar bump it needs to carry out this important accreditation initiative.

read … Yes to wider schools accreditation

Hawaii Reps Vote Against More Visas for Skilled Immigrants

CB: Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa were in the minority of a 257-158 vote on a Republican bill to offer visas to highly skilled immigrants.

The STEM Jobs Act died, however, because a two-thirds majority was necessary for passage.

The bill, according to Hanabusa, would eliminate the Diversity Visa program “in order to create a new visa program for foreign students graduating with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from U.S. research universities.”

read … Diversity not ability

Fontaine needed at this crucial time in district

MN: George is a mature and trusted leader who is a good listener to all his constituents. George is a man of faith, excellent character, a man of integrity. George has always been a hard worker and is very responsible. He is a great husband and wonderful father. George has accomplished much in his life by serving well the people of South Maui.

read … Fontaine Needed

VIDEO: Senate District 25 and House District 36 Debate on PBS

Host Dan Boylan moderates two candidate forums. First: a veteran state senator and a former Department of Land and Natural Resources chair face off in the Senate District 25 race (Hawaii Kai, Kailua and Waimanalo). Candidates Fred Hemmings (R) and Laura Thielen (D) are scheduled to appear. The show's second half will feature candidates vying for the House District 36 seat (Mililani, Mililani Mauka and Waipio). Scheduled to appear are candidates Beth Fukumoto (R) and Marilyn Lee (D).

watch … Hawaii Public Television

Retaliation by New Director: DHHL Cancels Homesteading program

SA: The notion of self-help housing, in which the home is built with the help of the people who will live in it, meshes well with the mission of the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. The agency seeks to return Native Hawaiians to the land set aside for them more than 90 years ago under federal law, and "sweat equity" enables more homesteaders to afford a home in the place where they want to live.

So the end of a program with that aim — the Homestead Self-Help Program, initiated three years ago — is a disconcerting development. That's especially so for an agency with a lot of hurdles to surmount in giving eligible beneficiaries — those with more than 50 percent Hawaiian ancestry — into homesteads.

The program contract was not renewed when it expired in June — but given that DHHL has so many names on its waiting list, its officials should feel duty-bound to restart some form of self-help housing initiative without delay….

There's a disconnect here, one that could go beyond mere communications. Danner is also active with the Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homelands Assembly, the organization that serves beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920. The SCHHA has voted to oppose Masagatani's confirmation when it comes up in the next legislative session.

All of that is a matter of record on the SCHHA website, and people can draw their own conclusions on whether such friction was a factor here. Regardless, it does not obscure the fact that DHHL can't afford to lose momentum in any of its housing initiatives

read … Abercrombie Failure

Senate hearing likely to bring more UH disclosures

ILind: The hearing notice for Monday afternoon’s public hearing on the University of Hawaii’s failed Stevie Wonder concert before the Senate Special Committee on Accountability has been posted.

It includes a link where briefing materials will be posted.

Nothing posted there yet, but with all the documents being turned over to the committee, this will certainly be a place to watch.

read … Senate hearing likely to bring more UH disclosures

Effort aims to bring in homeless from streets

SA: "I really want to do a homeless survey," Nobles said as he approached a volunteer who was part of a community-based effort called 100,000 Homes Oahu, which aims to move 100 of Oahu's most at-risk homeless people and families into permanent homes in the next two years.

Nobles, who came from California in search of a better life in paradise but ended up spending 11 years living on Oahu's streets and beaches, was one of 439 homeless people who were surveyed from Monday to Wednesday.

Escorted by Hono­lulu police officers and social workers, about 200 volunteers surveyed homeless people in Waikiki, urban Hono­lulu and the Leeward Coast. They ranged from Colin Kippen, Hawaii state coordinator on homelessness, to City Councilman Stanley Chang and four of his staff members, to others from all walks of life.

read … Off the Streets

Hawaii jobless rate dips to 6.1% as thousands give up searching

SA: Hawaii's unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent in August from 6.3 percent in July, reaching its lowest level in more than three years, the state reported Thursday.

However, the report also showed that there was a decline in the overall labor force, suggesting that the drop in the unemployment rate was partly due to some discouraged job seekers simply giving up their searches.

There were 38,900 unemployed in August, down from 40,850 in July. Meanwhile, the total labor force fell to 640,250 from 644,100 during the same period, according to the report from the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

"People who leave the labor force are no longer counted as unemployed. That's one of the reasons you see a drop in the unemployment rate," said Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization. "When you see the labor force shrink by 3,850 people, that's not a good sign."

read … No Hope, No Change

Solar Scammers Begin Positioning to Defend their Profits Next Session

PBN: The state tax credits that have helped turn the photovoltaic installation business into one of the fastest-growing industries in the state could be eliminated by 2016, according to Rep. Denny Coffman, who is one of the key energy policy lawmakers as chair of the House Committee on Energy & Environment.

Legislators are scheduled to meet next week to start the conversation about the future of the state’s controversial solar energy tax credits. The subsidies recently have come under fire by, among others, the state Department of Taxation and the Hawaii Council on Revenues, which decreased its most recent forecast because of them.

The meeting, which will include leaders in the PV business, will restart the dialogue designed to see how easy it will be next year to strike a balance between solving the state’s long-term budget problems and keeping the solar industry viable.

Both Senate Bill 2288 and House Bill 2417 got to the finish line, but ultimately died.

S.B. 2288 would have limited credits to one for each tax map key regardless of the number or types of systems, and would have created a cap on the credit for renewable-energy systems regardless of the cost or capacity of the system.

H.B. 2417 tried to eliminate the maximum available amount of the tax credit for solar-energy systems, unless the primary purpose of it is to use energy from the sun to heat water for household use.

There were different provisions in both bills, but by the end of the session H.B. 2417 had become the main bill. It included a sunset date of 2018 for the tax credits.

Mark Duda, a principal for RevoluSun, who plans to attend next week’s meeting, told PBN that he would like to see some changes to the way tax credits are currently administered.

Two of those changes were proposed in last year’s bills. One dealt with easing the confusion of administering the credits, which are done by the tax department. The other change involved a sliding scale sunset provision for the credits with an eventual expiration date of 2018.

read … Solar Credits

New Hoku: Sopogy Inc. Lays off Workers, Talks Pie in the Sky While CSP Crashes and Burns

PBN: the company, which has 40 employees, has had to lay off at least 10 people resulting from lack of work in Hawaii. (Remember solar is booming right now. These guys are laying off. Do the math.) This state currently accounts for about 20 percent of its business. About 90 percent of its business is done in the United States, with the remainder coming from Asia, a market that Sopogy thinks will balloon to 30 percent of total sales next year.

Solar-thermal collectors vary in design based on function, which includes everything from use as swimming pool and hot-water heaters to electric power production.

The company currently has 19 projects in operation and another 20 in the works. Sopogy, with offices in Honolulu and San Jose, Calif., has projects in Hawaii, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, Texas, Florida, Spain, Jordan, Egypt, Abu Dhabi, Thailand, Japan, Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

In Hawaii, its only project is the Holaniku at Keahole Point plant in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island at the Hawaii Ocean Science & Technology Park, which is run by the state’s Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority.

A project in the works that will utilize Sopogy’s solar-concentrating panels is Kalaeloa Solar One, a 5-megawatt solar farm being developed by Keahole Solar Power LLC, which was once part of Sopogy but is now an independent company. In March, Hawaiian Electric Co. signed a power-purchase agreement with Keahole Solar Power.

The primary barrier to these utility-scale projects is financing. A Solar Energy Industries Association report said that the recession of 2008 and 2009 severely restricted access to the private capital that is typically used to finance renewable-energy projects, and that banks today simply don’t have enough “appetite for long-term, low-interest debt to finance construction of every project in the queue.” (Other solar contractors are swimming in money and contracts.)

Hanis says that the rival PV sector, which has grown fast mostly because of the available tax credits and the falling price of modules, is one of the reasons that solar thermal industry hasn’t grown faster. (Yup. Sopogy’s ‘technology’ is even more wasteful than PV.)

read … A whole bunch of excuses and silly talk designed to mask abject failure

Engineer says rail line can be built despite obstacles

PBN: “There’s always a solution,” Steven Baldridge, president of Honolulu-based Baldridge & Associates Structural Engineering Inc., said of the possible need to alter the route. “I would imagine that any rail project that has ever been done has had some sort of realignment.”

Baldridge worked on the Keeamoku Street Walmart, which opened about eight years ago after Native Hawaiian burials were found on the site and relocated. He said he also worked on Miami’s Metrorail system.

Oahu’s rail system could be built in such a way that the hundreds of support columns along the 20-mile right-of-way will avoid Native Hawaiian burials, he said.

read … Same Players, New Game

How to Get Expelled from the Manoa Mosque

SA: (by Saleem Ahmed, expelled from Manoa Mosque) Merely based on news reports nowadays, it appears as if the entire Muslim world is in flames because of this unfortunate Sam Bacile (aka Nakoula Basseley Nakoula) episode involving the purported showing of the inflammatory video "Innocence of the Muslims" on YouTube.

I spoke to a friend in Karachi, who explained that, on the street next to the U.S. consulate, people were going about their business as usual. Schools were functioning, shops were open and the stock market was doing its usual gyrations.

Thus, journalists have to, somehow, find imaginative ways of showing that the happenings in the entire country are not represented by whatever video clip is being shown. News reporting with balance is news reporting par excellence.

Finally, a thought for vitriolic Muslims: As the Internet grows, chances are that more people will put up anti-Islam posts. Are you going to track down everyone to "punish" them? Or will you continue on the "brave and easy path" of punishing others in revenge?

Islam has not collapsed thus far, in spite of assaults from several non-Muslim powers over the past thousand years. Will it succumb to assaults from frenzied forces internally?

Respect is earned by deeds, and not by misdeeds. It is very easy to get people to hate someone; it is much more difficult to get people to like someone.

Quo vadis, fellow Muslims?

Background: Brookings: Muslims expel reformer from Manoa mosque, claim Arabs discovered Hawaii

read … Saleem Ahmed

Al Jazeera: How to Get Hired at Civil Beat

As a video journalist, Joe helped usher in an era of backpack TV journalism, reporting from five continents for programs such as ABC's Nightline and PBS's Frontline World. He's also written for the New York Times, Mother Jones and National Public Radio. iWitness, the webcam interview series he created and hosted for PBS's Frontline/World, won the 2009 Webby for the best online news and video series.

More recently, Joe’s work has explored the future of energy and the political battles that erupt around crucial policy issues. A recent report he produced for Al Jazeera English looked at a showdown in California over its global warming reduction law. (No coal) Last year, with the California-based Center For Investigative Reporting, he produced two documentaries delving into nuclear power safety in the United States.

This fall, Joe is set to travel to Japan with the support of an International Center For Journalists fellowship to document the dramatic ongoing debate over the role of nuclear power in that island nation. (No nukes)

(Question: If America has no nukes and no coal, where will we get our energy from? – Answer: Muslims)

read … Another leftist activist

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