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Tuesday, December 24, 2013
December 24, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:57 PM :: 5411 Views

FULL TEXT: Secret Pono Choices Curriculum Exposed

Supreme Court Invalidates LUC Koa Ridge Reclassification

How Christmas Came to Hawaii

Merry Christmas

Hawaii Health Connector: One More Day to Get Obamacare

Full Text: Hawaii State Auditor Gets Audited

UHERO: Ethanol Harms Public Welfare, Does Little to Reduce Greenhouse Gasses

DoE: Hawaii leads nation in growth of National Board Certified teachers

$3.46M CIP for Hawaii Film Studio

Abercrombie Releases $74M Airport CIP

248 Gay 'Marriages' So Far

SA: At least 248 same-sex couples 'married' this month under a new state law, and they should not have a legal challenge lingering over them, state attorneys argued Monday. (248 x $875K = $217M)

The lawyers filed court papers asking a state judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging the Marriage Equality Act that made Hawaii the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

In their request, state attorneys cited figures by Alvin Onaka, the Health Department's state registrar, who said as of Dec. 16, 248 same-sex couples have married. He said the number could be higher because of a delay between a marriage and the couple reporting the marriage to the Health Department.

He also said 526 same-sex couples had applied for marriage licenses by Dec. 16.... (526 x $412K = $217M)

If voters who approved the 1998 amendment thought they were voting for an outright ban on same-sex marriages, that belief was "plainly mistaken," the lawyers said....

read ... Expensive Weddings

Did Clayton Hee Lead a Failed Political Coup in Hawaii's Senate?

CB: Call it a Coup d'Not.

Word from Hawaii state Senate circles is that Clayton Hee sought support from his colleagues in late autumn to topple Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and Vice President Ron Kouchi. But he fell well short of the 13 required votes.

Asked whether he had solicited help for a leadership change, Hee told Civil Beat Monday, "Not true. Not true."

Asked the same question, Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria said, "There's not much to say about that. Nothing's going to happen." (Galuteria is the third-ranking figure in the Senate.)

But more than a half-dozen people who are familiar with Hee's pitch for change said that he attempted a political putsch. Civil Beat granted anonymity to sources with direct knowledge of what happened because they didn't want to jeopardize their effectiveness by angering an influential senator.

In the end, the challenge to Senate leaders amounted to little more than a long-lasting fishing expedition and went nowhere.....

Hee was disappointed with how the two Senate leaders voted on same-sex marriage this fall....

There is little appetite to change Senate leadership in the middle of a two-year legislative session, given that chairs and committees are already established and work has already begun on 2014.

And many say there is absolutely no way senators would accept Hee as president. Hee's brash style is not appreciated by many of his colleagues.

read ... Clayton Hee is a Loser

Why Hawaii Democrats Aren't United This Holiday Season

NJ: Both the governor -- and the senator he appointed last year -- face credible primary challenges that could help shape the direction of the state party for years to come....

In the October Civil Beat poll, Schatz led among white voters 55 percent to 28 percent, and among Filipino voters, who represent a growing and increasingly important demographic in the state, though more Filipinos (47 percent) remained undecided than any other ethnic group. Hanabusa, who is of Japanese-American descent, held significant leads among Japanese, Chinese, and Native Hawaiian voters....

Abercrombie, the state's first-term governor and a former congressman, faces a primary challenge himself in 2014. A Honolulu Civil Beat poll conducted in October showed Abercrombie with a 39-percent approval rating. State Sen. David Ige (D), the chair of the Senate Ways and Means committee, announced he would challenge Abercrombie in July and has already received the backing of two former governors, Ben Cayetano and George Ariyoshi, who have together led Hawaii for 20 of the 54 years since it gained statehood.  Meanwhile, Obama endorsed Abercrombie last Friday, which should give a boost to the embattled incumbent. But Obama hasn't yet chimed in on the Senate primary.

Hawaii is home to eleven military bases, and the federal government sends more defense dollars per capita to Hawaii than any other state. A poll conducted by the Global Strategy Group in the final week of September showed 50 percent of voters said their family income was tied to the federal, state or local government, and 39 percent said their family income is tied to the military. Three out of four respondents described the military as "very important" to the state's economy, underscoring the anxiety surrounding the flow of federal and defense dollars to the state in the wake of Inouye's passing and the sequestration cuts to the federal budget.

Hanabusa voted against the recent budget deal crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) on the grounds that it balanced the budget on the backs of the kupuna, an affectionate term for Hawaii's elderly, federal workers, military retirees and the unemployed. Her objection put her at odds with Schatz, who voted for the deal.

MN: Maui News 'Impressed' with Hanabusa

read ... Democrats Not United

NEA may split with HSTA in Senate race as Unions Continue to Hedge their Bets

HNN: HSTA's local executive board has voted unanimously to support Hanabusa.

"We have always supported Colleen in every one of her races," said Wil Okabe, HSTA's president.

But sources said HSTA's national union, the 2.2 million-member National Education Association, may split with HSTA and back Schatz instead.

Okabe says that decision won't be made until early February.

"There's always a possibility for something like that because it is another recommendation process," Okabe said. 

Okabe said he'd make his case to the national board, made up of each state's president, but the final vote will be weighted by population of each state, meaning the vote of California's teachers' union chief will have much more weight in the final vote than Hawaii's, for example.

HPU Communication Professor John Hart said some unions may want to cover their bases....  (Who's got more power here?  The politician or the union?)

That's what happened with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the national of the state's largest union the Hawaii Government Employees Association, representing state and county white- and pink-collar employees. AFSCME also is the national group for the United Public Workers, which represents garbage collectors, prison guards and other blue-collar workers in Hawaii.

UPW backed Hanabusa but HGEA supported Schatz.

KITV:  HSTA endorses Hanabusa, Takai for Congress

read ... Split

HSTA Pushes for Pre-K to be in Public Schools, not Private Vouchers

SA: The state teachers union says it will lobby legislators next year to fund pre-kindergarten classes at public schools in an effort to preserve teaching jobs and help a set of children who will be too young to enter kindergarten.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association lists the initiative among its legislative priorities for the session that begins Jan. 15.

It marks a shift for the union, (WRONG) which opposed many of the Abercrombie administration's early-education proposals earlier this year, (AND STILL DOES) arguing that a state-funded preschool program would take away resources from the public school system. HSTA took issue with plans to work with private preschools to build capacity.Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, students will need to be at least 5 years old by July 31 to enroll in kindergarten at public schools. The state's intent was to phase out junior kindergarten — started in 2006 for late-born 4-year-olds — while rolling out a plan for publicly funded universal preschool.  (Star-Adv is desperately trying to spin this as if it were support for Abercrombie's Pre-K Initiative which provides vouchers for private preschool.)

"We want to reintroduce pre-kindergarten to address the concerns around the sunset of junior kindergarten," said HSTA President Wil Okabe. "Our initiative is to have all children provided with a free pre-kindergarten education with a qualified teacher."

Okabe said providing public preschool will help to ensure consistency for students as they shift to kindergarten at public schools. The idea of consistency is seen as critical for HSTA teachers who are now being evaluated in part by the academic growth of students under a new method that ties raises and other personnel decisions to student performance.

"Not all preschools in the private sector are licensed or have certified teachers. Our teachers went back to school to get certified in early-childhood education," Okabe said. "If there is a void of 4,000 to 5,000 children next year, what happens to those teachers?"

He said the union also wants pre-kindergarten and kindergarten to be mandatory....

read ... Star-Adv trying to spin this

Star-Adv: HART Board Fails to Question Grabauskas

SA: Recent updates about Oahu's rail project make it increasingly difficult to ignore unease about money handling for the $5.26 billion project now underway. A new city auditor's report casts doubt on whether consultants are being overseen tightly enough, and a lingering yearlong dispute over rail cars with the builder-operator does not bode well at this early stage of a long-term relationship.

What's emerged as equally troubling is less-than-vigorous questioning by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board on the public's behalf.

At a HART board meeting Thursday, rail transit officials, including HART executive director Dan Grabauskas, touted a total switch to four-car trains from two-car models, saying this would save $20 million and provide better customer service.

Sounds good. But the public presentation failed to fully disclose that the firm contracted to build and operate the trains, Ansaldo Honolulu JV, contends the switch would actually cost the city $4.2 million. ...

the HART board on Thursday failed to even question Grabauskas on ridership accuracy, another puzzling omission if the goal is to vet this project properly....

read ... HART oversight must be tougher

Was 2013 the Year of the Farmer?

CB: With the multiple laws aimed at agriculture introduced late last year and this year, it clearly was not the year of the farmer. It was the year of the loud minority of activists in our state. The majority of these activists don't feed people or till the lands or produce any food for our island. They use unfounded fear and threats to support their cause for that is their tactic. They take advantage of the fact that local people don't speak up and turn those who do into targets. That's not the local way of doing things.

It is time now for local folks, the silent majority to start speaking up to support your farmers, whether it be organic, conventional or biotech. We need all types of farmers in our communities. If the majority doesn't contribute to the discussions, our inaction sends a message to the farmers and agricultural industry that we don't want farms anymore.

read ... Joni Kamaya

Profs: Dr. Carbone Placed Cancer-Stricken Children at Risk

SA:  We bring the great majority of the center’s federal research funding and its only training grant. Many of us have been at UH for 20-30 years and played key roles in building the national and international reputation that UHCC has enjoyed for decades.

Under Carbone’s tenure, these and other accomplishments have been seriously endangered. His mismanagement has resulted in a high turnover of administrative and fiscal staff and the departure of several successful faculty members. Ten different faculty members filed 25 grievances through the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA). These are not the marks of a successful leader.

Complaints that were resolved against Carbone include inappropriate attempts to remove senior investigators from their own grants by fabricating facts to the federal granting agency; placing derogatory documents in personnel files; confiscation of faculty mail; and five violations of academic freedom. A single such violation would have made an administrator’s future tenuous in other institutions.

Carbone demanded that a faculty member stop all outside work immediately, despite requests to negotiate an orderly transition. Since the work included patient care, an abrupt stop would have endangered the lives of children with cancer by shutting down the state’s only pediatric stem cell transplant program. This was fortunately blocked by the then-vice chancellor for research and subsequent actions of UHPA.

UHPA: Cancer Center News 

read ... A Letter from Faculty

Anti-Telescope Activists Threaten STEM Funds

HTH: Representatives from the California-based Thirty Meter Telescope project started The Hawaii Island New Knowledge (THINK) fund several years ago in an attempt to “reach out” to the Big Island community. The fund will provide an annual amount of $1 million for STEM-related education on Hawaii Island.

However, construction of TMT is in the center of a legal battle, as a group of six petitioners, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, seek to overturn the state’s decision to grant a Conservation District Permit for the $1.3 billion initiative.

Despite legal challenges, Sandra Dawson, Hawaii community affairs manager for TMT, previously said plans are in the works to move ahead with construction since there’s no injunction. Currently, the TMT Board of Directors is working out a sub-lease agreement with the University of Hawaii at Hilo and officials from both sides said construction is slated to begin next year.

Dawson said three-fourths of the $1 million THINK fund will go toward the Hawaii Committee Foundation, a philanthropic entity that provides scholarships and grants to students throughout the state. The remaining one-fourth will go toward the Honolulu-based Ke Ali‘i Pauahi Foundation, an organization that supports Kamehameha Schools

read ...  TMT to benefit students

HELCO: Geothermal Bids don’t Bring Rates Down Low Enough

HTH: HELCO said none of the six bids met its technical and cost-of-power requirements, and will ask each of the companies to submit additional information.

When that request will go out remained unclear, but spokeswoman Kristin Okinaka said the utility is working with the projects’s “independent observer” on the issue.

“We’re basically giving the bidders an opportunity to provide additional information so we can make an informed decision,” Okinaka said.

Bidders were notified Friday....

Initially, HELCO CEO Jay Ignacio said he hoped to have a selection made by September. A deadline was later set for November.

In the RFP, the utility said it would evaluate bids to determine how they would impact electrical rates.

Okinaka said none of the bids would sufficiently lower electrical costs.

read ... Try Again

PUC OKs Hu Honua Bioenergy's contract with Hawaii Electric Light Co.

PBN:  Hawaii regulators have approved Hu Honua Bioenergy’s contract with Hawaii Electric Light Co. to provide renewable energy from its biomass plant on the Big Island, which is expected to generate 10 percent of the island’s energy needs, according to public documents.

As PBN first reported last month, work on the 21.5-megawatt plant had been halted because of the lack of final regulatory permits and approvals, leaving as many as 20 people — a mix of contract workers and employees — off the job....

read ... BioFools

Aina Koa Pono Touts Support from its Own Consulting Engineer

PBN: Aina Koa Pono LLC, a Honolulu-based biofuels company, said it has recently received a vote of confidence from AECOM Technology Corp. regarding the technology it plans to use at its proposed $450 million Big Island facility.

AECOM’s findings suggest that AKP’s technology is optimal for renewable liquid fuel production in Hawaii, determining that it produces substantially less carbon and requires less energy than current petroleum technologies....

AECOM Vice President of Energy Shawn Kelly said in a statement, adding: “It appears that the AKP project can be replicated throughout the Islands.”

read ... More BioFools

Electric Cars Still Waiting for a 'Jumpstart' on Maui

YYB: After parking the car, I plugged in the charger into my Leaf.  I did not really need to charge it. But I wanted to see how the process works. That’s when I noticed that these four charging units were Hitachi-made. The instructions on the screen said to go to the “kiosk” in the mall, presumably to activate it. Like paying for gasoline inside a station, I suppose?

“Hm… so it’s not free,” I muttered.

I asked the information booth inside the mall where that “kiosk” was.

“Oh, that’s actually a storefront,” a lady behind the desk said. “Just look for JumpStart.”

I did. Spacious office space.  Nice. Two big windows, each about 15 ft wide. A TV screen running a program that outlined the advantages of electric cars. But when I tried to open the door, it was locked!?

I went back to the information booth. “So these are just placebos,” I said to the same lady.

read ... No Jumpstart

Turtle Bay: Lawsuits Threaten $40M Deal

CB: The Sierra Club joined a complaint on Monday filed by the organization Keep the North Shore Country earlier this month.

Robert Harris, director of the Hawaii Sierra Club, said the resort’s supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) should have evaluated the option of adding no new buildings at the resort. The city accepted the SEIS in October.

"The current SEIS fails to consider a baseline ‘take no action’ approach, and instead perversely concludes Kuilima’s development plans will have the least impact on the environment," Harris said in an email. "This is contrary to basic environmental law and something a court should act quickly to remedy."

The Sierra Club’s lawsuit comes just days after Unite Here Local 5, a union for hotel workers in Hawaii, also filed a complaint against the resort  alleging that the hotel’s plans for condos and timeshares won’t provide as many jobs for North Shore residents as would full-service hotels.

Drew Stotesbury, CEO of Turtle Bay Resort, said the lawsuits risk delaying the resort’s ongoing negotiations with the state to conserve some of the undeveloped land at Turtle Bay. ...

PDF: Click here to read the full complaint.

read ... No Surprise here

Harbor Patrol: Police Officer Arrested for Running Over Co-Worker

KHON: A harbor patrol officer with the state transportation department remains in custody on Monday night accused of trying to run over his co-worker....

John Dejesus, 30, was arrested on suspicion of attempted assault.

The victim is a 55-year-old man. He's a former Honolulu police officer who now works as a harbor patrol officer. He was not injured....

read ... 'Not injured?'

HDOT crews start installing barriers at Laniakea Beach, Enviros Threaten to Sue to Maintain Traffic Jams

HNN: "We believe there will be serious legal challenges to any attempt to block access," said Stuart Coleman, Hawaii Coordinator for the Surfrider Foundation.

SA: The "short-term" measure could become permanent if effective, the state suggests

read ... Enviros Protest as Usual

Hawaii adds 1,300 construction jobs in past year

MN: Hawaii has added 1,300 construction jobs in the past 12 months, bringing total industry employment to 31,900, according to the newest data from the Associated General Contractors of America.

But the size of Hawaii's construction workforce continues to fluctuate: In November 2012, it stood at 30,600; in September of this year that number had grown to 32,900 before dropping to 31,900 in October and staying flat in November.

Nationwide, Hawaii's construction employment gain ranked the state 21st during the past 12 months, and 31st for the last month.

read ... Jobs

Today is Last Chance for Honolulu Housing Privatization Deal

CB: Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is still hoping to salvage a $142 million deal that would transfer ownership of the city’s affordable housing projects to a private developer, but he doesn’t have much time.

By the end of business Tuesday, the city must convince the Honolulu Affordable Housing Partnership to hold up its end of the bargain or risk losing millions of dollars in litigation and future expenses to operate the apartments.

"The Caldwell Administration is still working hard this week trying to keep the sale of the affordable housing portfolio on track," Caldwell spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said in an emailed statement. "We are focused on finding solutions to keep the sale moving forward in order to avoid serious consequences for the city’s budget."

The Caldwell administration said the deal was threatened when Honolulu City Council Chair Ernie Martin introduced resolutions to cancel the sale as a means of gaining leverage in a fight over money that was going to nonprofits.

read ... Privatization

Politicians Dumbfounded as Movie Studios Compete Against Each Other instead of coming together behind Tax Credits

CB: Buenger said politicians told him he would single-handedly wreck the future of film in Hawaii if he moved forward with his plans. They urged him to stay out of the way. In an industry built on relationships, crossing Kavanaugh is not something that is done....

Buenger said after he started advertising Maui Film Studios earlier this year, Kavanaugh met with local political leaders and supposedly told them “it would be a cold day in hell” before a major Hollywood production would take advantage of the new space.

“My rallying cry is let entrepreneurs be entrepreneurs,” Buenger said. “I want to bring new money in. That’s what this county needs.”....

In 2011, Kavanaugh pulled out all the stops to push his $500 million plan to build studios on Maui, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island. His primary target though was a $193 million studio on Maui, where he lives part-time, that would include 10 adjoining 18,000-square-foot stages.

He demanded tax breaks on construction, up to $25 million per project. He pushed for a 40 percent tax credit — double the current offering — on production costs to make Hawaii more competitive with Puerto Rico, Louisiana and others states trying to attract film industry dollars. And he wanted a 50 percent wage rebate on the first 900 hours employees worked as part of a film career training program....

During the five-month legislative session in 2011, Relativity spent more than $200,000 wining and dining half the Legislature and handing out boxes of DVDs, iPads and other gifts.

The company later paid an $8,500 fine for violating lobbying laws....

Former President Bill Clinton, who reportedly received millions of dollars in donations to his nonprofits from one of Kavanaugh’s business partners, was even (easily) persuaded (bought) to lend his support for the proposed tax breaks....

read ... Entrepreneurs vs Tax Breaks

Obama Gives Federal Workers A 1 Percent Raise

NPR: President Obama signed an executive order on Monday, giving federal workers and military personnel a 1 percent raise.

As Government Executive reports, the pay raise is the first across-the-board increase the federal workforce has gotten since 2010.

read ... Pay Hike

Shibuya refiles suit against KPD

KGI: A retired police lieutenant has refiled a civil suit against the County of Kauai, Kauai Police Department, Chief Darryl Perry and Assistant Chief Mark Begley.

Retired Vice Lt. Eric Shibuya is seeking damages for an alleged punitive transfer and resulting meritless investigation. After his initial suit was withdrawn in 2012, the case was filed again earlier this month in 5th Circuit Court through the law firm of Richards & Zenger.

Shibuya retired on Feb. 29, 2012. He says it was an early retirement and the result of the problems he experienced....

The initial case came to an end in late 2012, without any hearings scheduled and both parties filing a stipulation for dismissal of claims.

read ... Shibuya



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