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Tuesday, January 7, 2014
January 7, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:02 PM :: 5451 Views

Tax Credit Scammers Find a New Home in HSDC

New Republic: Hawaii Anti-GMO Protesters ‘Objectively Crazy’

GMOs: NYT/Grist gets it right; Hawaii County Council gets it wrong

Hawaii GOP refuses request to recruit for Obamacare exchange

Kaiser: 57% of Hawaii Uninsured Eligible for Medicaid

Hawaii Family Forum: Organizing for Life, Family, and Religious Freedom

March for Life Set for January 25

High Home Values Give Hawaii Low Property Tax Percentage

Cho Tet--Vietnamese New Year Fest

Hannemann Should Jump to the GOP 

Borreca: ... a Democratic primary is more likely to draw the attention of liberal and progressive Democrats, rather than conservative Christian voters.

Still not heard from is former two-term Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann. It is still possible for him to jump into the primary.

Since Hannemann has lost his last two Democratic primaries since leaving City Hall, the argument can also be made that perhaps Hannemann needs to think like his political hero, former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi, and either jump to the GOP or start his own independent party to skip the entire primary season and battle the winner in the general election in November.

read ... Fasi Redux? 

EDITOR'S NOTE: It may seen incongruous in light of recent battles over Rail, but the GOP must find the way to say 'Yes' to Mufi. 

The reasons should be obvious:  While Inouye was alive, the one party system masked two internal parties: Old-boy vs Progressive Democrats.  With Inouye out of the picture, Progressive Dems are now doing everything in their power to throw out the more conservative-minded Old-boys in favor of what the Washington Post describes as a "whiter progressive wing that is trying to become Hawaii’s new ruling class."  

Besides the Progressives, there is no new political class trying to emerge in Hawaii.  Thus Republicans can change the political landscape and create a two-party system ONLY by opening their doors to exiled old-boys. 

Frank Fasi was a one-off, driven by his individual political goals.  Mufi, in contrast, could be the first of many politically effective old-boy Democrats who make the switch as they are ousted from their former Party because of their unwillingness to conform to Hawaii Democrats ultra-leftist political platform.   In a wild role-reversal, the Hawaii Republican Party could reemerge as an open-minded multi-ethnic political group standing up against a closed-minded white ruling class.  Such a realignment could have national impact.

The question is whether Hawaii Republicans are politically mature enough to recognize and grasp this once-in-a-lifetime political opportunity.

  *   *   *   *   *

Preschool cash called premature

SA: Some lawmakers are wary of the Abercrombie administration's plans to move ahead with state-funded preschool, calling a nearly $6 million funding request premature ahead of a constitutional amendment that will be on the November ballot.

The proposed amendment, which lawmakers reluctantly agreed to last session, will ask voters whether public funds should be spent on private preschool programs. Without it the state won't be able to use public money to build the necessary capacity at public and private preschools to eventually serve all of the state's 18,000 4-year-olds....

At a budget briefing Monday before the House Finance and Senate Ways and Means committees, some lawmakers questioned whether the investments would be pointless if the proposed constitutional amendment ends up defeated. The amendment would allow the state to contract with private providers to build capacity.

"You would build a program one way if this amendment passes, (and) you would build it probably a different way if the amendment doesn't pass. To do some efforts, to build something this year, which may not be either one of those models, then does that get undone?" state Sen. Laura Thielen asked. "Isn't it premature to be bringing forward this size of an initiative around early childhood education before we get a read from the voters?"

GG Weisenfeld, director of the Executive Office on Early Learning, said she can't sit back and wait for the outcome of the proposed constitutional amendment. She said her office, established two years ago by the Legislature, needs to be proactive in creating a comprehensive early childhood learning system.

"If the constitutional amendment passes or not, we still need to really look at how can we better utilize our (public school) campuses and teachers to really help with this population," Weisenfeld said. "I don't think it can be 100 percent in private preschools. I don't think it can be 100 percent in (Department of Education) public schools. It really does need to be a combination."

Sen. Jill Tokuda (D, Kaneohe-Kailua), chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, said the proposals to expand preschool access through more subsidies, classes at public schools and family-child interaction learning programs are important steps toward "beefing up the different options and increasing the universe of families we can support."

read ... Who cares what the People Say

City Refuses to Turn over Emails to Ethics Comm, Promises to Stop Destroying Them

KITV: ...explain Totto’s frustration over months of delays with getting information. It is access Totto needs to follow up on after the growing number of ethics complaints.

Totto doesn’t understand why mayor Kirk Caldwell's administration has been slow to respond.

"Staff's position is, as long as we have legal authority and the information we request is reasonable relevant to alleged misconduct, that we are allowed to look at electronic files," said Totto.

The city Human Resources director has refused to turn over the info citing privacy concerns.

Kubo noted there have been cases where emails included labor contract information which is considered confidential....

commissioners are uncomfortable with having city managers screen the information limiting what the commission can get access to.

Totto fears in the process of foot dragging, possible evidence located in emails have already been destroyed....

One thing that did get cleared up is that the city’s Information Technology office is willing to put a hold on purging emails in the system so they don’t get destroyed if there is a dispute over whether they should be turned over. (Translation: They deleted the good stuff already.)

CB: A New Era in Ethics in Honolulu? Time Will Tell

read ... City administrators appear before ethics commission

Dental tragedy prompts concerns over sedating kids, Lack of Fluoridation

KHON: A trip to Island Dentistry in Kailua proved fatal for three year old Finley Boyle when her family claims she was sedated with a host of drugs and went into cardiac arrest. She had ten cavities and needed four procedures called a pulpotomy to remove infected tissue near the root canal. Experts say that's not uncommon for kids.

"Just because of the fact we don't have a fluoridated water system," said Dr. Allen Hirai, Pediatric Dentistry Kahala. "The extensiveness of the decay is quite large."

Dr. Allen Hirai has been a pediatric dentist the past 29 years. He does not use any sedation on children because of the risks.

HA, 2004: City bans Fluoridation in Water 

read ... Tragedy

Appointed lawyer now a right in child-custody matters

SA: Parents who can't afford a lawyer have a state constitutional right to a court-appointed attorney when the state seeks to terminate their parental rights, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Monday.

In the unanimous decision, the high court held that the failure of a Hawaii island Family Court judge to appoint a lawyer for a woman nearly 19 months after the state requested temporary foster custody over her son was an "abuse of discretion."

State law permits the Family Court to appoint a lawyer for indigent parents, but the high court said the "case-by-case" approach now used isn't sufficient.

The justices said parents have a right to a lawyer under the state Constitution's due-process clause.

read ... Court Appointed Attorney

Courts Dismissing Hundreds of Abuse cases, TROs over procedural errors

KHON: A full court room turned empty Monday morning when a Family Court judge dismissed 60 family abuse and temporary restraining order type cases that were awaiting trial.

"The rules requires a second arraignment within 14 days of that District Court arraignment. The District Court has not been following the rule for whatever reason," defense attorney Jeffrey Hawk said.

A Supreme Court ruling from Dec. 18, State vs. Basnet, points that out, saying the rules haven't been followed, so any pending family court abuse case currently awaiting trial must be dismissed without prejudice....

Hawk says on top of the 60 thrown out Monday, many more cases are in the pipeline that could be affected.

"At this point, what's gonna happen is potentially hundreds of cases will be dismissed. People held in custody are going to be released because they are being held for defective charges," Hawk said.

The Honolulu Prosecutor's Office can go through the process of recharging these cases....

The State Judiciary in charge of Family Court says all new cases are not affected since a new practice has been implemented. That includes making sure judges schedule arraignments in Circuit Court within that 14 day time period.

SA: Recent ruling scotches misdemeanors but all criminal charges will be refiled

read ... Abusers Freed

After Mitsunaga Fired, UH Student center falls 14 months behind

HNN:  A recreation center project being built at the University of Hawaii's flagship Manoa campus has suffered further delays and is now expected to be completed one year and two months late, Hawaii News Now learned Monday.

The $33 million project is being funded in part by $100-a-year athletic fees that UH Manoa began charging students in the spring of 2011.

When Hawaii News Now first revealed problems with the project in mid July, the building was running ten months behind schedule....

"It comes down to the same thing.  Management.  Who's in charge?" asked State Sen. Sam Slom (R- Kahala, Hawaii Kai), the Senate minority leader.   "Who's overseeing what's going on?  Why would we have this kind of delay since December 2012?"

A spokesman for Mitsunaga and Associates, the project's construction management consultant, said UH informed the company last summer it didn't have money left to pay them so UH had to let them go.  (Greenwood's final revenge?)

That means UH took the unusual step of replacing a consultant with in-house management of the troubled project, with a significant amount of the job still incomplete.

read ... Greenwood's Revenge

City's affordable housing deal might hinge on seller financing

SA: The administration of Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the partners of a group that committed to buy the lease interest in 12 city affordable housing complexes for $142 million have agreed to keep talking, the mayor's office said late today.

City officials had given Honolulu Affordable Housing Partners LLC until end of business today to say if it was still interested in, and able to, complete a deal by a scheduled March 31 deadline.

After receiving a written response from the buyer today, city Managing Director Ember Shinn wrote back agreeing to the partners' wish to extend a Dec. 31 deadline to give financial assurances that it could complete the deal by March 31....

Administration officials said that the cancellation of the sale would have large ramifications on the city, including a $20 million hole in the current year's $2 billion operating budget.

read ... Still Talking

VA Cuts Hawaii Home Loans Guarantees Again

PR: The VA's limit on home loan guarantees in Honolulu for 2014 is $625,500, down 17 percent from last year's limit of $750,000.

Hawaii has among the highest home prices in the nation, so the lower limit could price some active-duty servicemen and veterans out of the housing market. The median home price in Honolulu is $684,000.

The VA has previously been embroiled in a protracted dispute with the state over its handing of home loans on property with rainwater catchment systems.

read ... Guarantee

New Head of Cultural Preservation in Hawaii Pledges Transparency

CB: Alan Downer sat in his office at the State Historic Preservation Division last month looking perplexed. He had been on the job as the new administrator of SHPD for less than two weeks and a state legislator had already filed a formal public records request for him to deal with.

"I'm thinking, 'You're a legislator. Why don't you just ask (me)?'" he recalled during a recent interview.

read ... Pledges

Transparency taken a hit under Abercrombie Administration

HR: It is very difficult to get any significant updates on two stalled (and important) highway projects, the second phase of Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening and the realignment/reconstruction of the final 5.7 miles of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway in Hilo.

I have to jump through hoops to get any updates on these projects, as the governor refuses to acknowledge any of my e-mails. The lack of transparency also applies to the State Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration upper management on Oahu and the mainland.

This wasn’t a problem during Governor Lingle’s second term

read ... Takes a Hit

Council may consider Ford’s GMO bill next

WHT: A month has passed since Mayor Billy Kenoi signed Bill 113, limiting the use of genetically engineered crops on the Big Island, but the Hawaii County Council may still get a second helping of the contentious issue.

Ka‘u/South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford is bringing her own bill that would ban all modified crops back for discussion after the council’s Public Safety and Mass Transit Committee voted it down last September.

Ford, who chairs the committee, had placed it on today’s committee agenda but said Monday she was postponing the meeting because she is “severely under the weather.” She plans to bring it back in about a month.

Ford’s bill would go further than Bill 113 by banning all genetically altered crops within 30 days. The legislation the council adopted bans open-air use of modified plants with exemptions for those already growing them.

Ford was the only vote in favor of her bill when it was defeated.

read ... Lunatics and Idiots

KIUC Election Spending Underlines Cost of Smart-Meter Paranoia

KGI: Kelly said the utility does not want to be spending its members’ money on the election. Additionally, “we’d like to not be spending any of our members’ money on lawyers to defend KIUC against someone seeking an injunction to stop the meters fees that were approved by the Public Utilities Commission,” he wrote.

In November, Asquith filed a complaint in 5th Circuit Court Against KIUC seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction....

“I’m taking money from the 2014 advertising budget and moving it up earlier in the year, so this isn’t additional money that’s being spent – just means I’ll have to tighten down later,” he wrote. “I’m also using airtime from the local radio left over from 2013.”

The cost of the current election has been pegged at $63,000, including $30,000 for Merriman River Group, an election management services company on the Mainland.

Out of the utility’s 30,000 customers, about 3,000 have opted not to use wireless smart meters. KIUC estimates the cost of reading and servicing those 3,000 old meters to be about $340,000 per year.

“That works out to just under $1 a month for every one of the cooperative’s members,” the co-op wrote in an October release.

Election ballots were mailed out last week and are due back to KIUC by noon Jan. 25. The fees in question include a one-time set-up charge and a $10.27 monthly fee for customers who opt not to use the new technology. Both fees took effect in November.

IM: The Perception of Risk and the Response by Government

read ... Voting to Make Lunatics and Idiots Pay for their own Stupidity

Anti-GMO Activists Get their Hands on 'Food System'

WHT: Almost two years since it was completed, The Kohala Center’s Health Impact Assessment on Hawaii County’s Agriculture Plan has garnered national attention and helped produce meaningful effects on the local food system.

Among the key findings, the assessment recommended the modification of state procurement practices to allow schools and other government institutions to make purchasing locally produced food easier; the promotion of agricultural careers; making the purchase of fresh, local food more convenient and affordable in rural areas; and the increase of local food-processing capacity through partnerships.

read ... Political Power

Explosion, Fire Among Solar Battery Challenges

SA: The explosion of the PV industry has overtaken the other players in Hawaii's race to meet its renewable energy goals, laid out in the state's Clean Energy Initiative target: By 2030, Hawaii should have 70 percent "clean energy," meaning that the state would generate 40 percent of its energy through renewable sources and reduce the use of fossil fuels by another 30 percent, through conservation efforts.

That commitment was struck as part of a 2008 partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. Under President Barack Obama, the agency has shown mounting interest in battery-technology advances and last month released a report on grid energy storage.

The report identified four challenges to be overcome, including the development of equitable regulations, the technical performance and cost problems, the need for broad industry acceptance of the technology and reliability and safety concerns.

This is no small matter. The public became aware of the safety issue, for example, after the fire that, a year ago, stemmed from batteries at the Kahuku wind farm. It's a different generation method, to be sure, but it still illustrates that the path to success likely won't be easy or perfectly straightforward.

IM: The Footprint of Hawaii Batteries

read ... Fire Hazard

Chicago Tribune Offers Trash Talk to Hawaii In Campaign to Land Obama Presidential Library

NB: In an editorial in July, The Chicago Tribune said, “With no insult to Hawaii’s respect for the life of the mind, it’s fair to say that very few people go there in fierce pursuit of book learning.”

Read ... News Busters

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