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Tuesday, September 8, 2009
September 8, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:54 AM :: 6697 Views


Economy dims unions' festivities

Across town the Hawaii Government Employees Association and state negotiators continued an arbitration hearing behind closed doors that could determine furloughs, pay cuts or layoffs for union members.

Up the street, in front of the state Capitol, HGEA members lined both sides of Beretania Street yesterday morning in a show of solidarity. They carried signs saying, "Fairness for Public Employees" and "No Layoffs."  (Pretty funny--considering that the HGEA bosses are the ones who have forced layoffs.) 

RELATED: Furloughs vs Layoffs: The union no-solution strategy

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State disputes dropout count (The figures don't lie but the DoE sure can figure)

The problem with that, state Department of Education officials say, is the Ed Week number is incorrect. They say, according to the DOE's own tracking of individual students, that the state's graduation rate is closer to 79 percent.

Currently, Hawai'i uses a "cohort" method that tracks graduation rates of individual students. That means that each year, ninth-grade students entering high school are tracked through their senior year. 

It's a method that about 22 states use, and is considered to be far superior than using a formula to calculate a state's graduation rate, which Ed Week does, Hirata said.

(How does the State's high turnover rate among military-dependant students affect this number?  Is this related to the DoE's illegal effort to prevent formation of the American Heritage Academy -- a charter school for military students based on the DoD Schools curriculum?????)

Here is the DoE's argument: EdWeek Wrong Again About Hawaii's Graduation Rate
And here is what they are arguing against: Public School Graduation Rates in the United States ,

RELATED: DoE failure costs Hawaii $1.6 Billion every year

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Hawaii's private schools boost aid

The state's private schools this year have had to increase financial aid to prevent an exodus of families that can no longer afford tuition.

While enrollment at private campuses appears to be holding fairly steady since last year, many schools are reporting substantial increases in financial aid awards.

Hawai'i's larger private institutions, including Punahou School, 'Iolani School and Mid-Pacific Institute, all report that enrollment has remained about the same since last year.

Yearly tuition at Hawai'i's top private schools can be as high as $16,000 or more.  (A small price to pay for saving your kid from the DoE)

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The Akaka Bill Dilemma

Trisha Kehaulani Watson illustrates the dilemma with Charlie Brown, Lucy and a football.  This is where solutions like school vouchers can change the debate over where Hawaii is going in the next 50 years.

read more/see video 

SB gives space to "Truther": Local TV-film industry is precious investment

From where I sit, the decision to reduce/eliminate the Hawaii Film Office is not based on the advisability of doing so, but merely because the absence of union contracts and a sufficient angry voting block makes it possible to do so. Our Legislature is not cutting the spending that needs cutting, but chooses to cut what it thinks it can get away with.

(The author of this commentary, Michael Rivero, is the webmaster of anti-Semitic 9-11 truther website  

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Shield law protects isle filmmaker's sources

Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe ruled that independent filmmaker Keoni Alvarez cannot be forced to reveal his unpublished work or his confidential sources, the ACLU said in a news release. Alvarez was represented by the ACLU and Honolulu attorney James J. Bickerton.

Alvarez has spent the last four years preparing a documentary about native Hawaiian burial practices and was subpoenaed by attorneys for Joseph Brescia, whose home on Naue Point on Kauai has become a flash point over development and native Hawaiian burials.

(This is a particularly good ruling because it protects a "non-traditional" journalist.  Of course the Hawaii Judiciary regards precedent as something to be ignored when politically expedient.)  

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Fishing village at Honolulu's Pier 38 may soon be fully leased

Arick Yanagihara, company co-owner, said Seafood Hawaii has long considered being part of the fishing village, largely to be close to United Fishing's auction house, which it used to be near before United Fishing moved off state land in Kaka'ako to make way for development there. That development has languished much longer than the Pier 38 redevelopment project.

"When (the Kaka'ako site) closed down, we became somewhat of a gypsy," Yanagihara said.

(One redevelopment scheme chases tenants into the other....)

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HMSA hired lobbyist to seek stimulus cash

Lobbying records at the Web site show HMSA hired the firm of Mcallister & Quinn LLC earlier this year. The firm was retained as Congress considered the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which includes $23 billion to help with the adoption of health information technology.

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Kauai Ethics Board’s opinion may set precedent

Kaua‘i Economic Development Board President and CEO Matilda “Mattie” Yoshioka confirmed last week that she proffered a resignation letter to the Charter Review Commission on Aug. 14, one day after being advised by the Ethics Board to no longer appear before the Kaua‘i County Council.

Charter Section 20.02D says “No officer or employee of the county shall ... appear in behalf of private interests before any county board, commission or agency.”
Yoshioka agreed that she had done just that for KEDB.

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Adv: New 'circuit breaker' can ease tax burden

The Honolulu City Council is considering various approaches, including a proposal favored by the administration and others, to create a separate, lower tax rate for residential owner-occupants. An alternative idea before the council is to increase the property tax exemption for the same class of property owner....

But there's already a mechanism in place to assist taxpayers facing difficulty paying the tax bill — one that could help during tough economic times, and benefiting those who need the most help.

The "circuit-breaker" limit on taxing lower-income homeowners works for incomes under $50,000 and caps the tax liability at 5 percent of income. Officials should consider raising the qualifying income or adjusting tax limit. Offering relief through expanding the circuit-breaker allows for more targeted relief for a greater share of homeowners.

(And still help Mufi get past Neil in the Dem Primary--which is what this is all about)

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Renewable energy surging

Ted Peck, state energy administrator, said the Department of Defense is already a leader when it comes to renewables here, with photovoltaic installations at several buildings, tests of wave-generated electricity off Marine Corps Base Hawaii and using photovoltaic and wind energy to produce hydrogen for vehicles used in flight lines at Hickam Air Force Base.

The Marine Corps may install a similar hydrogen plant in Kane'ohe, while other plans could include a 60- to 70-megawatt solar farm and bioenergy plant. Last month, the Navy awarded an $8.1 million contract to Lockheed Martin Corp. to advance development of ocean thermal energy conversion systems, something that could result in a 10-megawatt plant being built off Kahe Point.

The state has talked to the military about locating transmission stations for a proposed 30-megawatt windfarm in Kahuku on Army land. Peck said the military is also supporting the state's proposed transmission cable between wind farms on Lana'i, Moloka'i and O'ahu.

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Animal Liberation group harasses UH scientists

Louis Herman, UH emeritus professor of psychology, founded the research facility in 1970 and was president and director of the Dolphin Institute, a nonprofit scientific and educational organization. He was fined $7,503, according to documents provided by the organization Stop Animal Exploitation Now....

Herman was renowned for groundbreaking studies on dolphin intelligence, behavior, communication and sensory abilities. His research was often featured in National Geographic and other scientific publications.

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