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Friday, November 06, 2009
Furloughs: Advertiser sides with “sustainability” billionaires against “Save our Sports”
By Andrew Walden @ 8:06 PM :: 11824 Views :: Education K-12, Energy, Higher Education, Taxes

by Andrew Walden

First it was the Star-Bulletin editorializing against the voter registration drive being conducted by Hawaii church groups, now the Honolulu Advertiser has run an article complaining about the fundraising success of “Save Our Sports”.

According to an October 26 editorial piece thinly disguised as a news analysis, Save Our Sports’ success in raising $1.2 million for Hawaii’s 55 public high school athletic programs indicates a “shift toward an ‘American Idol’-style system of public funding that rewards popularity over merit.”

One can visualize the Advertiser editors looking down their nose sneering, “Sports are just...so…so...middle class”.  And, as if on cue, The Advertiser quotes a snobbish UH Manoa Professor:

“I find it amazing the community came up with $1 million for school sports — not music, not math. I know it's extremely popular but is that the biggest need?"

Yes, high school athletics are the greatest need. That is why the DoE and HSTA cut them.  By now everybody who is paying attention knows that the DoE/HSTA objective is to do the most damage to the students and their parents in order to gin up demand for tax increases.  Obviously high school athletics would be near the top of their list.  Who ever heard of a “save the desk jockey” hoolaulea?  Had the DoE made cuts to its fraud-ridden “professional service contracts”, taxpayers would have stood up and applauded.  But the DoE/HSTA negotiators didn’t do that because without the furloughs, it would be harder to push for tax increases.

That is a story which Hawai`i Free Press has been ferreting out and telling for months now. But there is another story—one which leads us to two billionaires, Act215/221, the obscure issue of Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) reform, and the tax-increase-advocacy group Kanu Hawaii which has now effectively taken control of “Hawaii Education Matters.”

Contrast the Advertiser’s condescension towards “Save our Sports” with the media adulation the very next day when E-bay founder Pierre Omidyar's announced his pledge of $50 million in donations to Hawaii non-profits.

The Advertiser October 27 gushed:

“Since returning to Hawaii the Omidyars have supported a number of local causes and organizations, from helping launch Kanu Hawaii to backing the expansion of Ma`o Organic Farms in Waianae and its farm to school program for young adults. Most recently the Omidyars launched the Ulupono Initiative, a social investment organization that makes nonprofit grants and for profit investments aimed at addressing issues critical to Hawaii's sustainable future — renewable energy, local food production and waste reduction.”

We will come back to the “Ulupono Initiative.” For now focus on the revelation that Omidyar “helped launch Kanu Hawaii”.  Interesting.  That is the second “sustainability” billionaire tied to the allegedly “grassroots” community organizing group now on the cutting edge of efforts to co-opt protesting parents into advocating tax increases to fill the DoE’s sieve-like budget.

In the last legislative session Kanu Hawaii lobbied hard to raise the barrel tax to set a price floor of $100/barrel for oil imported into Hawaii – but they didn't do it to fund schools.  Why might Kanu Hawaii and its billionaire backers lobby for a bill which would raise the price of fuel and electricity for 1.2 million middle class and low income Hawaii residents? 

As this writer explained October 20

In testimony submitted to the House Committee on Agriculture February 18, 2009 (Kanu Hawaii boss James) Koshiba complained that the Barrel Tax proposal was a measly $1 for every barrel of crude oil and other petroleum products imported into Hawaii.  Joined by Olin Lagon, Kanu Hawaii's "Director of Social Ventures", and Kanu Hawaii board member Makena Coffman, Koshiba demanded that "the barrel tax should be structured to set a 'floor price' on oil of $100 per barrel."  Kanu Hawaii member and green activist Josh Stanbro chimed in on line with a suggested $125 per barrel floor pointing out helpfully: "So right now at $45 barrel, the tax would be $80, but when oil goes up to $100, it will only be $25".  Contrary to their predictions, during 2009 the price of crude oil on the NY Mercantile Exchange has so far ranged between $35 and $78 per barrel.

In their testimony, Koshiba and the other Kanu Hawaii leaders acknowledged that the barrel tax is "highly regressive--hitting the poor hardest because they spend a larger portion of their small incomes on things like gas and electricity."  They did not provide any estimate of how many more middle and lower income Hawaii residents would be forced to move to the mainland by the direct and indirect economic damage wrought by the proposed tax.  But they did enthuse, "Setting a floor on the price of oil is the best way to sustain incentives that shift ... investor dollars toward renewable energy projects."  Setting "the ($100 floor) barrel tax would generate $3 billion in its first year."

Driving gasoline prices and utility bill through the roof in order to “shift investor dollars toward renewable energy projects" -- who could benefit from that?

In a posting on the group’s website, one Kanu Hawaii member chirps, "I am in Maui right now working with an associate that is introducing sustainable technology to the David Murdock group on Lanai." 

Forbes Magazine lists Murdock, CEO of Castle and Cooke, as the 80th richest American with a net worth of $3.7 billion.  But apparently Kanu Hawaii leaders think mom and pop in Waianae should be forced to pony up to "sustain" Murdock's latest "sustainable" energy scheme.

But Murdock is not the only billionaire whose pockets might be lined by thousands of “small income” people paying $6/gallon for gasoline and $400/month utility bills.  From the October 20 Hawai`i Free Press article:

$100 per barrel oil was not the only cause championed by Kanu Hawaii last session. Kanu Hawaii boss James Koshiba testified April 2, 2009 to Sen. Roz Baker's (D-Maui Memorial) Committee on Economic Development & Technology 'in support of another bill--HB1503--relating to Limited Liability Companies.

Citing his experience with "a consulting firm"..."a loan fund"..."a venture capital fund"... (and) "a technology company",  Koshiba gushed, "many trusts, foundations, and high net worth individuals in the islands are interested in investments that produce both a social (or environmental) and financial return....HB 1503 would provide an important tool to double-bottom-line businesses, and dual-dividend investors to participate in ventures that do well (economically)...." 

And what is a "double-bottom-line" company?  Koshiba explains, "companies that were founded to pursue a social or environmental mission and which generate a profit...."

That sounds a lot like Omidyar's Kanu Hawaii is lobbying for laws to create the kind of company which would be backed by Omidyar's “Ulupono Initiative” which PBN described as, “a social investment organization that makes nonprofit grants and for profit investments aimed at addressing issues critical to Hawaii's sustainable future — renewable energy, local food production and waste reduction.”  In Hawaiian, "ulu pono" means "progressive" and also "thriving, successful."

Suddenly the Advertiser’s snobbish hostility to middle class people raising money for “Save our Sports” takes on whole new meaning. The very same Advertiser lavishes praise on Omidyar’s “charity” when in fact some of Omidyar’s money is backing a “charitable” political agenda which would raise gas prices and utility bills in order to strip money from thousands of those middle class people the Advertiser looks down upon and use it to line the pockets of “sustainability” billionaires and their eco-cronies.  The Cap and Trade Carbon Tax scheme may never become law in the US, but in Hawaii, well-heeled forces are working on their own local version.

Last session, Hawaii’s secretive 100% tax credits for Act 215/221 companies were reduced to a measly 80% tax credit.  Companies were also barred from giving out credits of greater value than the so-called "investment".  This ends the 2-1 tax credit specials which previously allowed a $50,000 "investor" to walk away with $100,000 in tax credits--a 200% return on investment before the company makes a penny in profit.  This new scheme means that investors actually have to believe there is a chance that the company in which they are investing might turn a profit one day.

The cutback from 200% sure thing apparently destroyed the marketplace for new taxpayer-subsidized tech company stock offerings.  And Act 215/221 tax credits are scheduled to sunset December 31, 2010--unless the Legislature revives them or extends them at the new rate.  But if HB 1503 LLC reform were to pass, perhaps some of these feel-good “double bottom line” companies would have enough of an opportunity to collect Hawaii taxpayer subsidies--possibly underwritten by the "$100 floor" barrel tax, and/or through the sale of carbon credits under some global warming cap and tax scheme --to pay enough of a so-called "profit" to appeal to the same kind of "investors" attracted by the now-defunct ACT 215/221 200% rate.

$50M from an Act 215/221 subsidized company underwrote the assault on Molokai Ranch, it may explain why your dentist is so calm about recent state income tax hikes, and it leads to a very surprising connection to yet another prominent Honolulu non-profit.

Stay tuned.  And remember -- this is all about the children -- or the polar bears -- or something. 

---30---

RELATED:

Bill Status: HB1503  (Carried over to next session)

Star-Bulletin comes out against voter registration drive

Furloughs: How Unions and the DoE aim to co-opt protesting parents

HGEA vs HSTA: The coming legislative budget crisis

Good News: A small elite no longer runs Hawaii -- Bad News: Mufi thinks he can change that

Moloka`i activists seek control of ranch

It’s September--Do you know where your Akaka Bill is?

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

Ebay's Omidyar: Obama-backing Hamas-talking billionaire in Hawaii, expecting disaster

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