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Saturday, January 4, 2014
January 4, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:57 PM :: 3253 Views

HI Health Connector Solicits GOP Help in Boosting Enrollments

Hawaii Health Connector Finds One Success Story

PUC Clears Former Chairman's Law Firm to Continue Representing Lanai Wind Project

WaPo: Hawaii an Incubator for Progressive Policies

WaPo: Mostly one-party control has made Hawaii an incubator for progressive policies. In 1974, when Obama was living in Honolulu, the state passed its prepaid health-care law – landmark legislation that required all businesses to offer health insurance to employees who worked more than 20 hours a week. Hawaii also has put itself at the leading edge of clean-energy development and initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases.

“We have always been and continue to be a liberal or progressive social laboratory,” said state Sen. Sam Slom, the chamber’s lone Republican.

Coincidentally, Slom said he lived one floor below Barack Obama in the Punahou Circle Apartments in the 1970s. Obama was living there with his grandparents while attending high school, and Slom said he worked at the Bank of Hawaii alongside Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Dunham.

Slom said Hawaii “languishes in missed opportunities” to attract businesses because its state taxes, regulations and environmental rules are too onerous. “If this were the thing that the president looks to as being the panacea, he should talk to some of the people who have to struggle here,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place, the people are wonderful, but the business climate is hostile.”

Abercrombie, a former leftist student activist who befriended Obama’s parents at the University of Hawaii, governs as a liberal Democrat. He said that despite the overwhelmingly Democratic control of state government, there is plenty of disagreement within the Legislature.

“It’s not all sweetness and light,” Abercrombie said.

Incubating Now:

read ... Incubator

Choom Gang friends from Punahou provide sanctuary for Obama

WaPo: Obama has remained remarkably close to a trio he met as a teenager at Punahou School -- boys of Hawaii's year-round summer with whom he played basketball, bodysurfed, drank beer and, like so many other young islanders in the 1970s, smoked marijuana, the "choom" of that long-ago nickname.

Now they mainly just golf -- more than 30 hours in six outings this vacation -- and trash-talk, just like in the old days.

After years during which the friends grew apart, Obama reconnected with Mike Ramos, Bobby Titcomb and Greg Orme a decade ago. They agreed to rendezvous in Hawaii every year for the holidays, and their reunions became regular even as Obama was busy climbing to senator and president, a path none of them imagined nearly four decades ago and 5,000 miles from Washington....

That first year, Ramos said, "I remember coming home from a golf outing and literally starting to cry," so emotional was the contrast he felt between their friendships and the "transactional" ones he said he had since formed as a businessman.

"For me it's the unconditional love, it's the nontransactional nature of the relationship -- that enduring quality. That is something that I really value," he said....

In April 2011, Titcomb was arrested on a charge of soliciting prostitution in a Honolulu sting operation, but the reunions with the president never stopped. Obama's concern, Axelrod said, was for Titcomb, whose arrest was international news because he "happened to be Barack Obama's friend."...

But, said Ramos, who is in the process of a divorce, "We probably spent more time talking about my situation than we did about his."...

Non-Transactional: Obama's Puck's Alley Drug Dealer Killed by Gay Lover

read ... How They See Themselves

Caldwell Vacations While Low Income Housing Deal Collapses

SA: The partnership that agreed to a $142 million purchase of 12 Honolulu affordable housing complexes from the city has until 4 p.m. Monday to provide financial assurances or the deal likely will be nixed, Honolulu Managing Director Ember Shinn told members of a City Council committee today.

"This is a collapsing deal," Shinn told the Executive Matters and Legislative Affairs Committee. "If it is salvageable, it will be through some efforts that are extraordinary."

Shinn, serving as acting mayor during Mayor Kirk Caldwell's 17-day family vacation, described the complex transaction known as the Honolulu Affordable Housing Preservation Initiative as "probably the largest financial deal the city has done in a very long time." ...

No representatives from the partnership attended today's committee meeting.

read ... Monday

ILWU, Employers Prepare for Toughest Talks in Decades

JC: West Coast employers in 2014 are bracing for what could be the most frustrating contract negotiations they’ve had with the powerful International Longshore and Warehouse Union in decades....

read ... ILWU

Turmoil at East-West Center in Hawaii as Fesharaki, energy team quit

R: At yearend, the four-person energy research team resigned, protesting funding and job cuts and accusing the center's president of jeopardizing the viability of the 54-year-old institution, which receives about $16 million in federal funding and has been a respected forum for geopolitical research and discussion.

The resignations followed a steady paring of the center's research staff during the 16-year tenure of President Charles E. Morrison, reflecting what he says is a more cost-effective strategy. Opponents, meanwhile, say the cuts have weakened the institute's influence that in the past helped shape national debates on U.S.-China relations, U.S.-Asia trade policy and other economic and political issues.

"The institution used to have great programs. The program on population was famous worldwide, the program that I ran for many years was famous worldwide, and now they have all been shut down or greatly reduced," Fereidun Fesharaki, a senior fellow for 34 years and leader of the energy team, said in an interview on Thursday.

PBN: “[Fereidun] has a very successful consulting firm and we wish him and his team well,” Knudsen said

read ... Energy Team Quits

WSJ: Asian Refiners Get Squeezed by U.S. Energy Boom

WSJ: Asian oil refiners have become significant players in the global market for liquid fuels, thanks to investments in large, modern facilities. But they are facing growing pressure from a previously unlikely region—the U.S.

(But somehow, HECO hasn't managed to take advantage of this opportunity, thus keeping electric bills high and making green energy scams more profitable.)

Refiners in the U.S. have gained access to relatively inexpensive domestic shale oil and Canadian crude, which is giving them a competitive edge in the export market for fuels such as gasoline and diesel. Rivals in Asia started feeling the pressure when tankers leaving U.S. ports started unloading cargo in Europe and South America. Now the U.S. companies are starting to venture into Asia.

BP BP.LN -0.19% PLC and Vitol Group SA in recent weeks have sold U.S. jet fuel to Chinese buyers, according to Singapore-based traders, reversing the usual flow and underscoring the impact that unconventional oil is having on the global fuel trade.

Japanese utility Tokyo Electric Power Co. 9501.TO +0.19% said in February that it would import 200,000 tons of liquefied petroleum gas from U.S.-based Enterprise Products Partners EPD -0.32% LP between 2013 and 2016. The deal makes sense for Tepco, which has had to sharply increase its purchases of hydrocarbons since suspending operations at its nuclear power plants in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Propane, for example, costs around $620 a ton in the U.S. compared with more than $1,000 a ton in China. The price difference for butane is even wider, according to DNB Bank.

Meanwhile: To Stampede Legislature, HECO Trumpets High Rates

read ... The Wall Street Journal

Star-Adv: Dietary aids need oversight

SA: Americans spend $32 billion a year on dietary supplements. Also indisputable: Some of these diet aids are downright dangerous — generally outside the purview of the Food and Drug Administration until harm occurs and linked to rising health woes in Hawaii and across the U.S.

Dietary supplements account for 20 percent of drug-related liver ailments treated in U.S. hospitals, up from 7 percent a decade ago, according to the Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network. One of the most serious recent outbreaks was right here in Hawaii, which the state Department of Health continues to investigate.

The supplement OxyELITE PRO, which promised to burn fat and build muscle, was taken off Hawaii shelves in October and recalled nationwide a month later. The Health Department has identified 43 people in Hawaii who were taking that supplement or a version of it when they developed acute liver inflammation, or nonviral hepatitis. Two required liver transplants and a third patient died: a mother of seven who was trying to lose weight.

Background: Spike in Harm to Liver Is Tied to anti-GMO Funders -- Dietary Aids Industry

read ... Dietary aids need oversight

Progressive Bloggers Turn Against Smart Meter Paranoia

IM: Kauai Blogger Joan Conrow wrote that the cost-causer principal “seems a reasonable rationale, reached through an open process, and it's what's been adopted elsewhere.” Opponents of smart meters are entitled to their opinion, “but at what point do you decide — as a member-owned cooperative — that ship has sailed? Or do the 10 percent who don't want smart meters get to keep using new ploys to hold the other 90 percent hostage at the dock?”

Kauai Blogger Andy Parx opines that “it’s not just the cost of ‘meter readers.’ There is a host of other savings in having smart meters from future non-peak hour discounts to isolating outages quickly without waiting for phone calls to integrating home generation efficiently, And many others. And, I think you give the anti-SM crowd too much credit by saying they are entitled to analog meters in the first place.” ....

Maui engineer and environmentalist Karen Chun wrote, “Here on Maui they're denying people rooftop PV because they can't manage their grid properly. Smart meters give the utility the information required to incorporate MORE PV and other renewable energy into the system. By opting out, people are not just making meter-reading more expensive, they are creating a situation where more oil has to be used.”

read ... KIUC Smart Meter ballot initiative vote gets underway

Hawaii AG Joins Brief to Block Firearm Purchase Loophole

CB: Hawaii Attorney General David Louie has filed a “friend of the court” brief in a U.S. Supreme Court case (Abramski v. United States) involving background checks when purchasing firearms.

Hawaii joins eight other states and the District of Columbia that support the U.S. government’s position that a Virginia man named Bruce Abramski “violated federal law when he bought a gun from a licensed firearms dealer, claiming to be the actual buyer, when in fact he had pre-arranged to resell the gun to a third party,” according to a press release.

SA: Illegal alien admits to selling assault rifles, real estate

read ... Hawaii AG Joins Brief to Block Firearm Purchase Loophole

Preservation: Big Landowners Score Big Tax Credits

PBN: Kamehameha Schools, the largest private landowner in Hawaii, plans to ask the state Land Use Commission next week to preserve nearly 200 acres in Hanalei on Kauai’s North Shore as important agricultural lands under a five-year-old Hawaii law that includes such benefits as tax credits, according to Dan Orodenker, executive director of the commission.

These credits can be claimed for costs such as roads or utilities, agricultural processing facilities, water wells, reservoirs, dams, pipelines, ag housing, feasibility studies, legal and accounting services and equipment....

There have been several large landowners that have already tried to take advantage of this law, including Parker Ranch on the Big Island, which in 2011, asked the commission to preserve nearly half of its land holdings.

More recently, Grove Farm, which is owned by AOL founder Steve Case, got the commission’s approval last February to preserve about 11,000 acres on Kauai, which mostly will be utilized for the growth of biofuel crops.

read ... Kamehameha Schools seeks to preserve 200 acres of Kauai ag land

After 1 Year, Hawaii Co Council seeks new auditor

HTH: On the heels of a mostly positive external review of the legislative auditor’s office, the County Council will move closer next week to appointing an auditor to fill the position that’s been vacant for more than a year.

The quality control review covered the years from 2009, when the office was established as an independent agency, to June 30, 2012. Former Auditor Colleen Schrandt, who resigned in December 2012, was in charge during that period. Schrandt resigned to take an auditing position for the United Nations in New York City.

Her deputy, Lane Shibata, has been acting auditor since then and has received Schrandt’s endorsement for the permanent position.

The County Council has scheduled a special meeting for 8:15 a.m. Tuesday to interview applicants. The session is not open to the public, but the public can testify before the executive session. Council and committee meetings are in Hilo.

read ... Council seeks new auditor

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