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Tuesday, July 05, 2011
July 5, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:35 PM :: 7953 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development

New laws which take effect July 1

Abercrombie signs six more bills into Law

Abercrombie creates huge opening: Will GOP step up?

Clearly it is a political district of some concern because Republican Charles Djou held the seat for six months and it is expected that if Hanabusa jumps, Djou will be back in the campaign. He is a bright, articulate and well-organized Republican who would be a strong challenge for a Democrat, even in a historically Democrat state.

Democrats privately are saying that they can make an argument for Hanabusa to stay in the U.S. House because they don't have a strong candidate assured of beating Djou….

Democrats are worried that Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who after winning office said he would exert strong local leadership within the Democratic Party, has been nearly invisible.

"Gone are the days of the ‘firebrand' or ‘furious' Neil; now it's ‘pay back, this time it's for real' to the state that gave so much to him," complained one party leader who asked not to be quoted by name.

"Now he's sticking it to the unions that put him over the top last year, the HSTA, HGEA nurses unit, and finally the thousands who also put him over the top last year … What happened to our Neil? We want him back," said the grassroots Democratic organizer.

Over on the GOP side, there must be a recruiting vacuum. While Abercrombie is fully engaged in a public relations train wreck, the Republicans have found no one outside of paid staff to question the governor's actions.

Abercrombie's first six months have been a war against his own political base as he alienated unions and senior citizen public workers by threatening to tax pensions; then he launched a war of words against the Pro Bowl, picked fights with the rank and file members of the HGEA nurses bargaining unit, summarily asked for the resignations of duly appointed board and commission members, and now is in a nasty labor fight with public school teachers.

If the governor has launched a fusillade against both his feet, now is a good time to bring out a logical alternative.

To do that, the Republicans need a credible candidate who can run in 2014, just like how back in 2001, the GOP had an organized and competent Linda Lingle to return the volley from then-Gov. Ben Cayetano.

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HART Budget sets up 1 year tap dance with Council

At its first meeting Friday, the HART board avoided a confrontation by adopting exactly the $20.5 million operating budget and $354.7 million capital budget passed by the council.

“Legal action is clearly not in the best interest of the taxpayers,” said HART finance chairman Don Horner, in a sentiment that surely reflects the public mood on this contentious $5.3 billion project. “We’re confident the majority of the council want to see rail move forward and there’s no sense in arguing about technicalities at this point.”

Of course, the operative words were “at this point.” We’ll see next year whether HART submits its budget to the council for approval — or what the board does if the council adopts its own budget for the agency.

Horner pledged somewhat vaguely to “provide oversight” to both the council and city administration on finances and “to engage the public in the budgetary process.”

It’ll be an interesting tap dance — especially with the always combative Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi back in charge of the Budget Committee.

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Spending to promote Hawaii tourism cut

The Hawaii Tourism Authority, the state-funded agency tasked with marketing, had its budget capped by state lawmakers at $69 million in each of the next four years. The move has shifted $7 million in tourism dollars to other government programs in the fiscal year that started Friday. The shift also comes as the tourism industry struggles to recover from the recession.

The funding loss means tourism officials will have to spend their money more intelligently while trying to remain competitive with advertising efforts from destinations including Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia, said Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO Mike McCartney.

"We all have to live within our means. We have to figure out how to do more with less," McCartney said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We have to figure out how to use our data and knowledge more so we can target our money better."

While Hawaii is limiting its tourism spending, it still spends more taxpayer money on marketing to potential visitors than any other state — by far. Hawaii gets its tourism funding from a 9.25 percent tax on hotel rooms and other accommodations.

Washington state closed its official tourism agency last week and eliminated $2 million in state funding for self-promotion. California spends only $200,000 in state money on travel, although private tourism businesses contribute a total of about $50 million to promote it as a vacation destination. New York cut its tourism budget 60 percent to $5.5 million, and Arizona is down 40 percent to $8 million

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Will Budget cuts Sink Pearl Harbor Modernization?

Submitted to Congress for fiscal years 2012 to 2015, but not yet approved, are a $46.1 million submarine production support facility, a $19.1 million dry-dock waterfront facility and a $2.8 million welding school shop consolidation.

The modernization needs come at a time of growing national security importance for Pearl Harbor shipyard.

Amid explosive economic and military growth in Asia and the Pacific and concerns over China, the Navy shifted 60 percent of its attack submarines to the Pacific in a change from its former 50-50 split in the Atlantic and Pacific, and picked Pearl Harbor as the sole base for its new Virginia-class submarines.

The shipyard embarked last year on a decade-long, $1.86 billion warship modernization program to extend the life of the fleet, meanwhile. All three cruisers at Pearl Harbor, and its six destroyers, will undergo upgrades.

In 2010, Pearl Harbor shipyard received the prestigious Robert T. Mason Award for maintenance excellence, and is nominated again this year for the award.

A Naval Sea Systems release said Pearl Harbor "completed high priority repairs on time and on budget."

Following the 2005 closure scare, the shipyard was told to improve efficiency. The Chamber of Commerce's Ota said, "Their performance level has increased to be on the top of the Navy shipyards. They've been working real hard at it."

Bill Sullivan, a project superintendent on the upgrade of the cruiser USS Chosin, who has worked in the shipyard for 33 years, said "old-timers" and young workers alike looked deep within and concluded, "We have to make sweeping changes."

Sullivan said he worries that budget cuts will affect readiness the same way maintenance cutback decisions made 15 years ago negatively affected ships over time.

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HSTA Rep: Abercrombie Failed to Bargain In 'Good Faith'

Gov. Neil Abercrombie's decision to go public with the state's final offer for 12,700 school teachers was not in keeping with the 'good faith' requirement in collective bargaining law, said Beatrice DeRego-Coffield, a reading teacher at Kahuku High School who is also a union grievance representative for the Windward Complex.

"Good faith means you don't go to the public with your offer," DeRego-Coffield said. "That's why the teachers are so mad. The state just pushed away from the table and said, 'This is the best we can do, have a nice day.'"….

Despite the lack of organized communication and meetings, DeRego-Coffield said she doesn't anticipate teachers striking.

"We would have to vote to go out on a strike, and I personally think in this economy, it wouldn't happen," she said. "I used to think it would, but after this whole week of watching people and listening to people, they're hurting. They've been hurting for years. Even the people who want to strike just can't, because they have to pay their bills. I can't see that actually happening."

She reported that many teachers she has spoken with are in a 'wait and see' mode, and she predicts that the way the contract is handled will be a harbinger of what is to come for labor unions.

HSTA Facebook Wall: LINK

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Star-Advertiser cries over defeat of Obama’s Medical Snooping

Hawaii's chance to get a handle on the number of publicly insured residents denied access to primary care slipped away last week when the Obama administration shelved a plan for a mystery shopper program to measure access to medical services.

A common complaint among patients covered by government health plans such as Medicaid is the difficulty in finding primary care doctors willing to accept public insurance, though there is no hard evidence to gauge the scope of the problem. (Says who?  The rest of the article is full of evidence.)

The mystery shopper program, scrapped after doctors and politicians criticized it as government snooping, would have measured the level of access for patients insured in a public program versus higher-paying private insurance offered by companies such as Hawaii Medical Service Association.  (If only the Obama were allowed to spy on us, he might learn how badly his policies are affecting us.  Yep.)

Up until a few years ago, most local doctors were willing to take at least some patients covered by government insurance as part of their ethical obligation to serve the community's health needs, Kemble said. But fewer are now willing to do so since the state converted a large portion of the Medicaid program in February 2009 to two mainland managed-care providers whose administrative policies are criticized for being too burdensome, he said.  (This is because Medicaid was not allowed to tighten qualifications.)

"It's been burdensome manage-care policies, not reimbursement levels, that have driven doctors away from doing that," Kemble said. "Almost all now do not take new patients with Medicaid. You spend too much time trying to get authorization for everything you do. No private doctor can afford that."

Access to care could become more critical if more than 30 million people nationwide gain health coverage in the upcoming years under the 2010 health care reform law.  (And yet, this is exactly what Obamacare does—it puts 30M more people on Medicaid.  Morons.)

Alice Dean-Daniel, a 69-year-old Kailua-Kona resident, said she has had at least eight to 10 primary care providers in the past decade since being diagnosed with breast cancer, despite having dual coverage under HMSA and Medicare.  "It's just been constant turnover of primary care physicians," she said. "Some of the issues are related to just the whole medical system reimbursements and all those administrative hassles. It's just hard for them to do it. There's a lack of continuity of care. I'm very frustrated because right at the moment I don't have a doctor. The whole system just needs help."  (And the Abercrombie/Obama solution? More people on Medicaid which has even lower reimbursements and more hassles.)

"Virtually all people in Hawaii get seen in the end (in the emergency room)," he said. "People have pride, so if sometimes they can't find a doctor or can't afford a doctor, they wait until some condition has really progressed. It's just a very inefficient way and inhumane way for society to manage its health care problem."  (And yet Obamacare is being imposed on Hawaii by Abercrombie in the name of ELIMINATING unnecessary ER visits.  What a fraud!)

RELATED: Victory: Obama Admin cancels stealth survey of Hawaii MDs, NYT: Obama Administration Plans Stealth Survey of hundreds of Hawaii MDs

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SA: Charter school independence must come with accountability

(Its OK not to have an audit of the DoE but…) Concern over such (financial) irregularities (in Charter Schools) compounds the discomfort with uneven academic achievement at some schools. And still, the state's Charter School Review Panel has yet to close a single charter in more than 10 years. The one time it voted to do so, revoking the charter of the Waters of Life school on the Big Island about two years ago, the revocation was overturned because rules enabling the vote were not in place.

But there are hopeful signs that a turnaround is possible. The review panel has done more frequent audits, bringing problems to light. And with the signing of Senate Bill 1174, the illumination of charter school operations may be brighter still.

The measure puts charter schools on a six-year calendar of review and reauthorization and requires local school boards to adopt an ethics policy.

Another component of the new law — a task force created to examine possible reforms to governance and authority — is due to begin meeting in the coming weeks.

Last, some new talent is being brought into the current oversight structure. Lynn Finnegan, the former lawmaker and a charter school parent, has joined the review panel. And the hiring of Roger McKeague as executive director of the Hawaii Charter School Administrative Office should bring a fresh perspective to bear on the problems going forward.

Best Comment: “Please do your homework Star Advertiser. The Review Panel did not exist until after the 2007 Leg Session, not for ten years. And the ability to close a school required the adoption of administrative rules, an obligation of the State Board of Ed which never did its job by adopting them.” -- Jim Shon

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Rescuing dropouts from the DoE

Hilo High School student Shawn Lucas, 18, was struggling with the basics. English. Math.

"In pretty much all of my subjects," he said matter-of-factly.

"I was told I was a smart person, but I just didn't do my work."

Shawn says it was part boredom, part immaturity, as well as the fact that no one had really taken an interest and pushed him.

"When I got behind, I was too afraid to ask for help. And one teacher told me I wasn't going to amount to anything, and that I'd end up in jail. ... After that, I felt there was no reason to go to school."

Shawn was on the verge of dropping out. Then, he was referred to Hilo High's alternative learning program, the Lanakila Learning Center.

HTH: The price of dropping out

HTH: Figuring dropout rate an inexact science

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Gay-Atheists fail to trick Gabbard into running for US Senate

Democratic state Sen. Mike Gabbard has informed supporters, "Many of you have called, emailed or cornered me at Costco encouraging me to jump in the race, but after serious consideration, I've decided to pass."

He will run for re-election, however, and help daughter Tulsi Gabbard in her run for the U.S. House CD 2.

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No Crime Stats Kept on Honolulu Police Officers

The Honolulu Police Department keeps lots of statistics — on property theft, drug arrests and more.

But there's one statistic they don't keep — the number of officers on the force who have been charged with or convicted of crimes.

And the Honolulu Police Commission, tasked with addressing complaints made against the police department, doesn't track that information either.

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Andrea’s Law requires Murderers to Register

Much has happened since then. Empowered by the avalanche of support received when her story first went public in this newspaper, Rosenberg became the face and voice of Illinois House Bill 0263 — known as Andrea’s Law — that would require convicted murderers to register in a state database for 10 years after being released from prison….

Her 18 year-old daughter had broken up with Justin Boulay of St. Charles her freshman year at Eastern Illinois University, but Boulay had transferred from Elgin Community College that fall of 1997 to be close to Andrea. On the night of Feb. 2, 1998, when the two argued about their relationship, Boulay strangled Andrea with a telephone cord, and her body was found in his off-campus apartment the following day.

Rosenberg also hopes to work with other states that might consider a similar registry, including Hawaii, where Boulay is now living with the woman he married while in prison.

Boulay will be monitored closely by officials there until his parole ends in 2013.

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Abercrombie to sign State Indian Tribe Bill

"Every generation of Native Hawaiians since the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893 has struggled with not legally being recognized as equals,” Solomon said. (So now we will make them permanent second class tribal citizens.)

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From AtomicMonkey.wordpress.com

 

 

Mainland Luddites thrilled at Abercrombie intent-to-veto of Fish Farming Bill

Aloha, Thanks to your emails, calls and petitions, Governor Abercrombie announced yesterday that he intends to veto SB1511, a bill to extend leases for factory fish farms from 35 to 65 years.

This is such an important step because factory fish farming follows an industrial agriculture model and is nothing like traditional, ecosystem-based Hawaiian fishponds.  (and anything beyond that level of technology is unacceptable to us Luddites)  Ocean factory fish farms raise massive quantities of a single species of fish (the horror!) in cages out in ocean waters, allowing waste, antibiotics, excess feed and chemical treatments to flow directly into the water. (Yes, Virginia fish do poop in the ocean.)

Through this decision, Governor Abercrombie has demonstrated that he is willing to take a stand against industry demands and do what's right for Hawai`i's oceans and her people. (He’s one of us.)

Unless the legislature amends the bill to exclude ocean factory fish farms through a special session, this decision will be made final on July 12, 2011 — the date by which the governor signs bills into law or vetoes them.

Mahalo, Christina Lizzi, Fish Program Policy Analyst, Food & Water Watch  (Well-heeled activist in DC.  Eats fish only free-range fish.)

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Roz Baker to reminisce about her days as Teachers’ Union operative

Hawaii Sen. Roz Baker is traveling to Chicago this week for an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the constitutional amendment that lowered the national voting age to 18.

The Democrat representing Maui led the National Education Association's Project 18 and later the Youth Franchise Coalition, which lobbied Congress and worked with states to secure the 26th Amendment's ratification in 1971.

The commemoration of the amendment's passage is scheduled by the NEA for Thursday

Baker worked with the NEA as a lobbyist and assistant director for federal agency relations until 1980, when she moved to Hawaii (and began blocking hospital construction in her district).

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Futility Defined: After fencing off forest, pigs reinvade

In 2004 and 2005, surveys of the fenced management units at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, on the windward slopes of Mauna Kea, showed that six of the eight fenced management units were
pig-free and the remaining two were nearly so.

Five years later, the most recent survey of invasive species in the fenced units surrounding some 14,000 acres on the higher elevations of the 32,733-acre Hakalau forest unit of the refuge found signs of pig activity nearly everywhere surveyors looked.

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Tocqueville on bureaucracy

About 175 Independence Days ago, Alexis de Tocqueville foresaw the potential dangers of ever-increasing centralized power. He described the effects of such soft despotism as follows:

“[A]fter taking each individual by turns in its powerful hands and kneading him as it likes, the sovereign extends its arms over society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them, and directs them; it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.”

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Obama’s Economists: ‘Stimulus’ Cost $278,000 per Job, now is causing job loss

When the Obama administration releases a report on the Friday before a long weekend, it’s clearly not trying to draw attention to the report’s contents. Sure enough, the “Seventh Quarterly Report” on the economic impact of the “stimulus,” released on Friday, July 1, provides further evidence that President Obama’s economic “stimulus” did very little, if anything, to stimulate the economy, and a whole lot to stimulate the debt.

The report was written by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, a group of three economists who were all handpicked by Obama, and it chronicles the alleged success of the “stimulus” in adding or saving jobs. The council reports that, using “mainstream estimates of economic multipliers for the effects of fiscal stimulus” (which it describes as a “natural way to estimate the effects of” the legislation), the “stimulus” has added or saved just under 2.4 million jobs — whether private or public — at a cost (to date) of $666 billion. That’s a cost to taxpayers of $278,000 per job.

In other words, the government could simply have cut a $100,000 check to everyone whose employment was allegedly made possible by the “stimulus,” and taxpayers would have come out $427 billion ahead.

Furthermore, the council reports that, as of two quarters ago, the “stimulus” had added or saved just under 2.7 million jobs — or 288,000 more than it has now. In other words, over the past six months, the economy would have added or saved more jobs without the “stimulus” than it has with it. In comparison to how things would otherwise have been, the “stimulus” has been working in reverse over the past six months, causing the economy to shed jobs.

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Rare earth metals abundant in deep-sea mud

…but fortunately out of Hawaiian waters so OHA will not be able to line its pockets with this mud….and the enviros will not be able to go before their precious Hawaii  Supreme Court….

DWW: German industry is skeptical about major rare-earths find

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Honolulu Weekly: Why we can’t ditch nukes and coal

Nocera conservatively pegs annual global energy usage circa 2050 at between 28 terawatts — which assumes average consumption at the same rate as in present-day Poland — and 35 terawatts, roughly the rate now seen in Samoa. You may say: Samoa sounds like a lifestyle I could get used to. That’s sporting of you, but it still means we'll need about 15 to 20 more terawatts of energy than we're consuming right now.

Where will it come from? Nocera runs through some possibilities:

  • First, biomass. If we devote all the arable land on earth to energy production rather than food crops and presumably just don't eat, we could generate 7 to 10 terawatts.
  • Next, wind. If we build wind farms on 100 percent of the sufficiently windy land, we could produce 2.1 terawatts.
  • Third, hydroelectric. If we dam all the remaining rivers, we could come up with 0.7 to 2 additional terawatts.
  • Finally, nuclear. I know you don't like nukes, Randvek, but the professor's evident aim was to tote up all power sources that aren't net emitters of greenhouse gases. He thinks we could produce 8 terawatts by constructing 8,000 nuclear power plants, which would mean one new plant every two days for the next 40 years.

Total: around 18 to 22 terawatts. In other words, if we squeeze out every available watt of alternative energy on the planet, and build nukes at an impossibly aggressive rate, we'll barely keep up with the energy needed to support even a modest standard of living for the world's people.

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Asia pollution is latest excuse for global cooling

World temperatures did not rise from 1998 to 2008, while manmade emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuel grew by nearly a third, various data show.

The researchers from Boston and Harvard Universities and Finland's University of Turku, (desperately seeking an excuse), said pollution, and specifically sulphur emissions, from coal-fueled growth in Asia was responsible for the cooling effect.

Natural cooling effects included a declining solar cycle after 2002, meaning the sun's output fell.  (Duh! The Sun has something to do with the climate?)

The study said that the halt in warming had fueled doubts about anthropogenic climate change, where (bought-n-paid for crackpot) scientists say manmade greenhouse gas emissions are heating the Earth.

REALITY: "95% water vapour" Global warming debunked by New Zealand Meteorologist

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