Opening Day Legislative Preview
USDA: Pesticides, Chemicals, and Synthetic Ingredients Used in 'Organic' Food
Bureaucracy, high prices, keep local business from into buying Obamacare
OTEC Completes Pennystock Sale, Reverse Merger with Shell Company
Hawaii Co Dems Release Secret HD5 Nomination List
Talanei: Congressman on audio
DoAg: Kauai Pesticide Usage Report for December
Hawaii National Guard soldier dies in Afghanistan plane crash
HNN: An Army National Guard soldier from Hawaii was killed after the plane he was in crashed in eastern Afghanistan.
An MC-12 reconnaissance airplane crashed on January 10, killing Sgt. Drew M. Scobie, according to a spokesperson for the Hawaii National Guard.
Scobie and two others were on their way back from a nighttime mission when the crash occurred, killing all three. The military says there is no indication that the plane crashed as a result of enemy action. The cause is under investigation, and details will be released by the Department of Defense at a later time.
Scobie, 25, was born and raised in Kailua and joined the Hawaii Army National Guard in 2009. He was deployed to Afghanistan in October 2013 as a Fire Direction Operator. He flew on the MC-12 with a primary mission to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to ground troops.
According to Scobie's Facebook page, he also worked at Straub Clinic & Hospital on Oahu. A number of his family and friends have posted condolences on his page.
Sgt. Scobie leaves behind a wife, who is expecting, and a child.
read ... KIA Afghanistan
Star-Adv: Be a part of shaping Hawaii’s future, Defeat GMO Labeling
SA Editorial: While some lawmakers are loath to loosen the purse strings, the state is in much better economic shape now than it has been the past few sessions, and key initiatives deserve prudent funding — and not every good idea will cost the state money, of course.
The important issues before the Legislature are too numerous to list in full here, but our wish list includes....
Advancing Hawaii agriculture by strengthening statewide laws that support farmers, ranchers and horticulturists while also protecting consumers and the natural environment. Lawmakers should defeat the so-called GMO labeling bill, as they did last session; it wrongly stigmatizes biotechnology and crops grown using this legitimate scientific technique.
(Good Point: Product warning labels are there to warn of health hazards. GMOs are not a health hazard, therefore labeling is unwarranted. The mis-use of food labeling regs to advance an anti-GMO political agenda undermines the credibility of warning labels on other products. )
read ... Defeat GMO Labeling
Ambitious evaluation plan lacks resources, critics say
SA: Lawmakers took the Department of Education to task Tuesday for moving ahead with a "Cadillac" version of a new performance-based teachers evaluation system, saying resources to implement it are "grossly underfunded."
The criticism comes as the DOE seeks $14 million for next year for schools to each hire the equivalent of one teaching position. In justifying the request, the department said it would help alleviate workloads tied to a host of reforms that have been implemented in recent years. Overhauling teacher evaluations was a key pledge -- and one of several major reforms -- in the state's application for its $75 million federal Race to the Top grant.
In all, the DOE is seeking about $32 million in additional funding for next fiscal year, which would bring its total general fund budget to $1.39 billion, essentially flat with this year.
read ... Money
Business Roundtable: More reforms needed to assure educational success
SA: Public school children today learn a grade-and-a-half more content compared to 10 years ago. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan termed Hawaii's gains on the recent National Assessment of Educational Progress "noteworthy" -- and we wholeheartedly agree.
Hawaii's educational accomplishments are grounded in deep structural changes passed by the 2004 state Legislature. Specifically, Act 51....
As co-chairs of the Hawaii Business Roundtable's Education Committee, we propose a next set of structural changes for educational success -- for we believe Hawaii's learning gains remain fragile.
Beginning with our earliest learners, half of our keiki do not attend preschool and are left behind even before kindergarten. And next school year, 5,000 more 4-year-olds will be left behind by the change in kindergarten age.
Progress catalyzed by Hawaii's participation in Race to the Top could easily stall. And the bar for all students has again been raised, by more challenging K-12 Common Core State Standards and an increasingly competitive world where innovation and technological savvy are key to economic success.
The Roundtable believes that three actions by our Legislature, the governor, the Board of Education and the DOE are critical:
- Provide high-quality early learning opportunities for all our keiki.
- Raise the schools superintendent's pay to be nationally competitive.
- Support schools through clearly delineated central office functions.
read ... More reforms needed to assure educational success
Sen Thielen Questions 'Common Core'
CB: Sen. Laura Thielen expressed particular frustration over the predetermined textbooks and materials that have been selected for adoption at all public schools as part of the state’s transition into Common Core — a new set of teaching standards that’s being adopted across the country. She questioned DOE officials, including Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi and Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe, as to why the “central administration” is requiring all schools to adopt “one-size-fits-all” materials.
"How can one textbook resonate with the kids in a neighbor island rural school in homesteads and kids in a school on a Honolulu military base?" Thielen asked in a Facebook post that opened with this statement, in all caps: “THE CENTRAL DOE IS SOOOOO FRUSTRATING.”
Thielen, a former Board of Education member, said the statewide textbook and materials plan indicates the DOE isn’t listening to a nearly decade-old law, Act 51, that mandated the decentralization of Hawaii’s public schools.
"How do you reconcile that with the legislative intent of Act 51?" she asked at the briefing, noting that she doesn’t trust that the DOE will comply with its promise to let schools control their own individual budgets. The DOE is requesting another $14 million for per-student funds, money that it says will be distributed to individual schools to use as they see fit....
Explore the DOE’s budget proposal in full here.
AP: $25M requested to keep Hawaii classrooms cool
read ... Finance Committee Members Question Hawaii DOE Spending Plan
Firm buying rental properties wants to delay paying the city
SA: The selected buyer of 12 rental complexes is asking for an additional six months to a year to pay a large share of $142 million it promised to Honolulu -- and 20 more years to pay the rest, city administration officials said Tuesday.
The request by Hawaii Affordable Housing Partners LLC would put a $20 million hole in this year's city operating budget because the money, which was supposed to be paid by the deal's March 31 closing date, had been programmed into the fiscal 2014 budget so it could be spent, Managing Director Ember Shinn told the City Council Executive Matters and Legislative Affairs Committee.
The buyer returned to the negotiating table only after the city agreed to consider providing "seller financing." This came after the buyer claimed actions by the Council had put the city in default of the agreement.
Shinn said the buyer has proposed deferring making any payment until about six to 12 months after the scheduled March 31 closing date, at which point it would pay the city "the bulk" of the $142 million purchase price. City officials estimate that payment would be $132 million to $137 million, she said.
The remainder would then not be paid until about 20 years later. The reason for the delay in payment is because the buyer anticipates fewer tax credits than originally projected.
read ... Affordable Housing Plan?
PRP Tax Filing Details Political Spending But Questions Remain
CB: ...throughout the 2012 campaign, little was known about PRP aside from the fact that it was linked to the Hawaii Carpenters Union and that it was clearly taking advantage of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that allowed outside groups to funnel unlimited amounts of cash into political efforts.
But tax forms filed with the IRS are now providing a clearer picture of how much PRP actually invested in 2012 to keep rail on track and Cayetano out of Honolulu Hale....
PRP’s funding came through the Hawaii Carpenter Market Recovery Program Fund, which works to promote economic development for the state's carpenters. But not all of the spending was documented with the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission.
IRS tax records show the Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund spent nearly $7 million between Sept. 1, 2011 and Aug. 31, 2012, a figure that included everything from salaries and benefits to political expenses.
The filing is the latest IRS tax form available for the fund, and it doesn’t include spending between the August 2012 primary and the November general election, when PRP was most politically active....
LINK: Hawaii carpenters tax return
read ... Questions
Kahuku: 1,000 Sign Petition Against New Windfarm
HNN: First Wind's wind farm sits north of 300-plus homes in Kahuku's Koolau housing area. Now another wind farm company -- Champlin GEI Wind Holdings -- wants to plant 15 more wind turbines above Kahuku.
The Kahuku Community Association opposes the idea. The group has collected more than 1,000 signatures on a petition to stop the project.
"We object to the proximity of these machines to our neighborhood, to our elementary school and to the high school," association member Kent Fonoimoana said....
Fonoimoana also worries that property values will plummet and more wind turbines will prevent people from installing photovoltaic systems because there won't be room for them on the grid.
"If you go on HECO's map and you check out the saturation level, Kahuku is already at or beyond the 100 percent saturation rate," he said.
read ... Location of proposed wind farm raises concerns
The Fable of Hawaiian Frankencorn
RM: "Anybody you see around here dressed in a Tyvek suit will be someone from Greenpeace," David Stoltzfus joked as we surveyed the thousands of carefully numbered corn plants growing in the stony rust-colored soil of a former sugar cane plantation just a few miles inland from the spectacular Wailea Beach. Stoltzfus, who heads Monsanto's Piilani seed production farm on Maui, was referring to the white disposable coveralls that protesters wear for the TV cameras when "decontaminating" biotech crop fields.
read ... Frankencorn
Homeless Being Murdered because Liberals Refuse to Force them into Shelters
KHON: Three vicious crimes in the span of a month, all involving homeless men living on the streets of Oahu.
The most recent was overnight in Kailua. Honolulu police are searching for his attacker.
"It's a crime that needs to be solved first and foremost and if they are able to solve it, they'll answer questions like what was the motivation for the crime?" said Colin Kippen, State Homeless Coordinator.
In December, two homeless men were also killed, beaten to death on the street.
Police did arrest suspects in both cases, one an 18-year-old man, the other a boy.
HNN: City looking for potential potty locations in Chinatown
read ... Homeless murders spark new push for safety
Sovereignty Mortgage Scammers Contribute to Homelessness
ILind: Four Maui residents were convicted in federal court last year for running their own mortgage debt elimination scheme which also involved sending lenders a bogus “bonded promissory note” to cover the debt, along with a unilateral agreement, claiming powers for themselves if the lender fails to respond promptly. Those defendants are now awaiting sentencing. Their convictions seem an bad sign for the defendants in this latest case.
One difference is that the Maui defendants — associated with the Hawaii Loa Foundation or Ko Hawaii Pae Aina — cloaked their illegal scheme in the trappings of Hawaiian sovereignty, which allowed them to ensnare local victims who wanted to believe in the sovereignty narrative and instead ended up losing money and, in some cases, their homes.
That’s also the approach used by Laulima Title Search and Claims LLC, profiled with a surprisingly soft touch by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in a story this week.
According to the Star-Advertiser, Laulima and its owner, Kale Gumapac, sell people a $3,900 package purporting to prove the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom was illegal and, as a result, all land titles since that time are invalid because they were not issued according to Kingdom law. As a result, Gumapac claims, property owners—including those facing foreclosure—can make claims against their title insurance to cover their losses.
It’s hard for me not to agree with an attorney who represents lenders, quoted in the Star-Advertiser story with this summary appraisal of Laulima Title: "It's nothing more than a fraud.”
And yet, according to the Star-Advertiser, Gumapac still counts hundreds of people among his paying clients.
As Explained: Sovereignty Mortgage Scammer Keanu Sai at it again with help from Legislators, Maui Council, University
read ... Skepticism Over Kingdom Land Title Claims
Kakaako: Homeless Charged in Polysexual Rape
SA: A homeless couple was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman in Kakaako....
The 27-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of first-degree sexual assault and first-degree terroristic threatening....
read ... Another Crime
Atheists Target Former Pastor's Consulting Business
ILind: Fresh Leadership has already done similar training for the Department of Education, Dept. of Health, and Dept. of Public Safety....
According to the state’s business registration website, Fresh Leadership LLC is controlled by Craig Chong to offer “strategic planning and executive coaching.” It was registered to do business on November 30, 2006, which is when Chong reportedly got the initial state contracts.
So what’s Craig Chong’s background? From 199x to 1999, Chong was part of the core church planting team with New Hope Christian Fellowship Oahu from 1995 – 1999.
read ... Nonbid “leadership development” contracts raise questions
Obamacare Gives Single Payer Opening in 2017
MDJ: The prospects for single-payer health care — adored by many liberals, despised by private health insurers and looking better all the time to others — did not die in the Affordable Care Act. It was thrown a lifeline through a little-known provision tucked in the famously long legislation. Single-payer groups in several states are now lining up to make use of Section 1332.
Vermont is way ahead of the pack, but Hawaii, Oregon, New York, Washington, California, Colorado and Maryland have strong single-payer movements.
Under Section 1332, states may apply for “innovation waivers” starting in 2017. They would let states try paths to health care reform different from those mapped out by the Affordable Care Act — as long as they meet certain goals. States must cover as many people and offer coverage as comprehensive and affordable. And they can’t increase the federal deficit. Qualifying states would receive the same federal funding that would have been available under Obamacare.
Read ... The Marietta Daily Journal
Honolulu Traffic: Still Waiting for Ninth Circuit to Rule on Stop-Rail Appeal
HT: We are still waiting for the Ninth Circuit to rule on our appeal: Apparently the Ninth Circuit is extremely busy and the government shut down did not help. Hang in there; it should not be long now.
Meanwhile, New handout: "A cost-disbenefit analysis of the Honolulu rail project"
Schatz Demanding TV Networks 'Cover' Climate Change More
B: Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, are gathering colleagues' signatures on a letter to the networks asserting that they're ignoring global warming.
"It is beyond my comprehension that you have ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, that their Sunday shows have discussed climate change in 2012, collectively, for all of eight minutes," Sanders said, citing analysis by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America. (Its because the Nets know nobody believes in global warming any more. Duh.)
PolitiFact Coverage: Idiot Senator says 97 percent of Greenland's ice sheet thawed in July 2012
Unrelated: 'Ice quakes' hit Wisconsin
Ignore This, too: Shivering Cattle Signal Higher Beef Cost
read ... Not Enough Propaganda
Long live the Jones Act?
R: In its very first session, in September 1789, the U.S. Congress enacted restrictions limiting coastal trading in the infant United States to American ships. The navigation restrictions actually predate the Bill of Rights.
Similar restrictions were renewed throughout the 19th century.
Even today, a version of the navigation laws is still in force across the United States, a relic of mercantilism and a political case study of the ability of concentrated interests in the maritime and shipbuilding industries as well as seafarers' unions and parts of the armed forces to maintain protectionism.
The restrictions were most recently and comprehensively restated in the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more commonly known as the Jones Act, after its sponsor Republican Senator Wesley Jones of Washington.
read ... Kemp
UH West Oahu students getting money back
KHON: University of Hawaii West Oahu students are getting some money back. Just days ago, KHON2 exposed just how much UH was collecting in student fees for nonexistent services.
More than $100,000 will go back to students who paid last semester for things the university never delivered.
KHON2 started investigating after a student looked at his bill, which had just jumped from $5 to $120 per semester.
The student saw things that just aren't in service at West Oahu yet like transportation and a nurse or clinic, and called Action Line.
read ... UHWO
Travelers Stiffed by Disbarred Travel Agent Hiding Behind Shell Company
KHON: Orta-Wanstead says she kept getting the run-around and never got the trip or her money back. She says the man who booked her trip is Jack Kitagawa. He's the same man that ran Jackie's Travel, whose charter license was revoked in 2004, so the company was forced to refund hundreds of customers. Records show Walter Jack Kitagawa agreed to give up his travel agency license after RICO, the state Regulated Industries Complaints Office, investigated the incident in 2004. But it doesn't prevent Kitagawa from working for another company even with a similar name.
"In Hawaii, travel agencies hold the registration. Hawaii law currently doesn't require that each individual working for the agency also be licensed," RICO Officer Daria Loy-Goto said.
KHON2 visited Jackie's Vegas Tours on South King Street and Kitagawa was there. He declined to be interviewed, but he says the business is now closed. He says he's just a volunteer and the man that owns the company is Jeff Clayton, who is responsible for the refunds. Kitagawa says he has resigned.
read ... Two Time Loser