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Monday, March 31, 2014
March 31, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:19 PM :: 8774 Views

High-End Realtors Behind Anti-GMO Push

KE: ...on Maui, they don't even try to pretend, as they did on Kauai, that high end realtors aren't a key force in this supposed land-protection movement. They've got ritzy Wailea Realtor Mark Sheehan right on the program, where he can promote his commission-driven credo:

My clients want to avoid drift from cane burning, pesticides and GMO farms!

OK. Thanks for making it so clear what this is really and truly all about.

Looking at the faces on the program, I thought back to how Walter Ritte used to fight tourism, developers and fat cat realtors on Molokai. And now he's arm-in-arm.

Kauai: Anti-GMO Pro Tourism Crowd

read ... Hoodwinked

Developers Watch SB3122: Can OHA Deliver for Us?  Will Race-Baiting Pay?

CB: House Majority Leader Scott Saiki introduced a slew of bills to rein in the Hawaii Community Development Authority back in January, but of those, House Bill 1866 is the only measure still alive.

HB 1866 is an omnibus bill that would cap building heights at 418 feet, require more public notice for new projects and change various other aspects of the agency's rules....

a bill that would allow the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to build condos on Kakaako Makai is still moving through the Legislature but it’s unclear whether it has the momentum to pass this year.

The Legislature banned residential development in the area in 2006 in response to concerns from residents and recreational users of the nearby beaches.

The House Committee on Finance is planning to vote on the measure, Senate Bill 3122, on Tuesday.

Galuteria, a Native Hawaiian lawmaker and Senate Majority Leader who introduced SB 3122, said he didn’t want to speculate whether or not the bill will be successful this session.

“I want to see the Hawaiians be able to get maximum yield for their properties,” he said. “If anyone is going to develop on those lands, I would want it to be people who are good stewards.”

Another Example: Solomon Pushes for Approval of Mililani Trask's Overpriced Geothermal Contract

read ... Is Race-Baiting new Development Strategy?

Unite Here Local 5 Teams Up with Homeless Industry: Targets Korean Community with Urine Attack

SA: Efforts by two Korean community groups to set up a cultural monument park on a small patch of green in one of Hono­lulu's busiest neighborhoods have been stymied in recent years by the presence of homeless encampments.

The community groups and the roughly 20 people camped in and around Pawaa In-Ha Park say they've had a relatively peaceful coexistence.

But a growing source of frustration is an increase in the disrespect toward the monuments, including urination and defecation on them, and clothes hung to dry along them, said So Suk Ko, who heads the Pawaa In-Ha Park Committee....

The park is also a stone's throw from the headquarters of the Unite HERE Local 5 union, which has allowed people to stay outside its premises in exchange for keeping the area clean at night.

United HERE Political organizer Cade Wata­nabe, who holds occasional outdoor meetings at the park, said he opposes the city's enforcement actions.

"We don't see the utility in criminalizing this segment of our population," Wata­nabe said.

One way of solving the issue of urine and feces on the monuments is for the city to put up restroom facilities there, Wata­nabe said.

Caldwell, however, dismissed that idea. At parks frequented by the homeless, restrooms "tend to create more problems than they solve," he said.

read ... Homeless Industry Shakedown

Lawmakers say hospitals should cut costs, staff expenses

KGI: “When I walked into the job in November, there was a day that the region got down to $11,000 in its operating account,” Hawaii Health Systems Corporation Interim Kauai Region CEO Scott McFarland said about the fragile state of operations on Kauai. “It has been a difficult road to recover — we are very far behind in paying our local vendors who support our care delivery and our system and we have been working with the great vendors of our community to get our invoices up to date. We are slowly but surely making progress but we were in such a deep hole that we literally had to focus toward that end.”

Changes may be coming for HHSC employees at the island’s three primary care clinics and two public hospitals as officials seek to trim millions of dollars in costs and bolster revenues.

Increasing employee meal costs, reworking job descriptions and increasing outpatient services are just a few of the changes proposed for HHSC’s Kauai operations as company officials work with legislators to prevent deeper cuts.

To help stabilize operations, state lawmakers are now considering two measures to help fund the nation’s fourth largest public hospital system and provide more oversight over HHSC’s finances.

The recommendations provided by HHSC officials make up the crux of the first measure, House Concurrent Resolution 203, which calls for the company and its five regional boards to submit “long-term, multi-biennium plans to reduce the corporation’s operating deficits,” before the start of the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions....

Other cost-cutting and efficiency measures outlined for the Kauai region, according to HHSC plans, include reducing purchased services; paring overtime expenses by 15 percent; and establishing a physician compensation model based on productivity, quality and performance.

The company is also considering a freeze on hiring a compliance officer and chief financial officer for the Kauai Region and sharing those roles with the HHSC corporate office, a move that could save about $390,000 a year, according to HHSC estimates.

Reality: Legislative Report: Convert HHSC to non-profit, dump civil service (full text)

read ... Pushback against HGEA

Rooftop Solar Not 'Low Cost'

CB: It is inaccurate, however, to refer to rooftop solar under net metering as “low-cost.” While rooftop solar lowers bills for customers who install it, that is not the case for those without solar.

Under net metering, rooftop solar customers get credit for their solar electricity sent to the grid at the full bundled electricity rate which covers all costs of providing electric service, not just generation, rather than at “wholesale” rate paid to other power producers.

This means other customers are in essence paying 30 percent more for net-metered solar power than the price of oil-generated electricity, not “30 times” less.

At the same time, we are seeking approval to negotiate contracts with several large-scale solar projects offering rates to sell electricity at around 16 cents per kilowatt-hour and about 30 percent less than the price of oil-generated electricity. All customers, with and without solar, will benefit from these lower-cost projects.

read ... HECO vs Sierra Club

Oahu's retail stores are feeling the pinch early this year

KITV: Oahu's retail stores are feeling the pinch early this year. The closure of Price Busters, and the lack of tourism spending has had far reaching effects on Hawaii's retail market.

The closure of eight Price Busters stores in January brought down the Honolulu Retail Market according to Colliers International Report. 90,000 square feet of retail are left empty. Parking lots at shopping centers like Dillingham Shopping Plaza where Price Busters used to be are less crowded.

And its mirrored the slow sales Waikiki retailers recorded. Colliers said merchants of apparel, jewelry and souvenir in the area became weaker in the first quarter of 2014.

"Typically, we would try to be above what we set our goal at. Lately during the earlier months of this year we've been below or just make the goal we've set," said Kaui Kuaiwa manager at Brandy Melville.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority said there has been a leveling off of arrivals this year. There are about 300 fewer air passengers per day. Once here, tourists are spending on average $16 less during their trip this year compared to last.

"Tourists greatly out way local people by 70 to 40 percent so we really rely on tourists especially at this location," said Kuaiwa.

read ... Economy Crashing or Settling?

U.S Secretary of Education answers questions about children’s schooling

KHON: Dozens of parents, educators and others gathered at Joint Pearl Harbor Hickam with a chance to ask the education secretary questions about their children’s schooling.

“What I’ve sensed here is a real sense of courage, of willingness to challenge the status quo.” U.S Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.

The audience had questions ranging from how tests are developed to the ability of students to compete on the world stage.

read ... U.S Secretary of Education answers questions about children’s schooling

Obama To Endorse Brian Schatz In Hawaii's Heated Senate Democratic Primary

HuffPo: President Barack Obama is planning to endorse Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) over his challenger, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), in the state's competitive Senate Democratic primary, The Huffington Post has learned.

The president's endorsement will come later Monday, according to a source familiar with the plan who was not authorized to speak publicly before the announcement....

Neither Schatz nor Hanabusa had many positive things to say about each other in a recent interview, and their race has fractured the state's Democrats along gender and ethnicity lines. Schatz, a white, 41-year-old progressive, has endorsements from the state's largest union, the Hawaii Government Employees Association and national figures like Howard Dean and Al Gore. Hanabusa, 62, is Japanese-American and more aligned with centrist Democrats. She also has connections to Inouye's long-time backers.

Schatz was an early Obama supporter during his presidential run in 2008. Hanabusa, meanwhile, sided with Inouye in backing Hillary Clinton.

A February poll shows Schatz and Hanabusa in a dead heat.

read ... Bye Bye Colleen

Will Our U.S. Senate Candidates Make it Had to Find Info About Contributors?

CB:  ...why doesn’t the Senate file electronically?

“The reason is simple,” a recent Sacramento Bee editorial contends. “Senators make their own rules. Some of them don’t want to make it easy for the public to see who funds their campaigns, or how they spend their campaign money.”

The Bee and a number of other newspapers opined on the sorry state of Senate campaign finance filings as part of Sunshine Week, an important yet relatively little known effort by media organizations and good-government groups to shine a light on government transparency issues.

It turns out there’s a bipartisan bill, S. 375 also known as the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, that would require Senate campaign committees to file electronically to the FEC....

Introduced by Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, it now has 38 co-sponsors from both parties....

...about 20 senators have chosen to voluntarily file their reports electronically.  It seems there’s nothing stopping candidates from doing it on their own, according to the Bee editorial.

So let’s see if our two Senate candidates are willing to put their campaign money where their mouths are (so to speak) and simply hit the send button on the computer come April 15. We’ll let you know.

read ... Will Our U.S. Senate Candidates Do the Right Thing?

James Lovelock: environmentalism has become a religion

G: Scientist behind the Gaia hypothesis says environment movement does not pay enough attention to facts and he was too certain in the past about rising temperatures

As Explained: Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

read ... The Guardian

"There were many [gays] who didn’t care about marriage at all"

HM: In 1993, gay marriage was inconceivable to me and, I suspect, to most people. When my curious parents asked me about it, I told them that marriage was low on my list of gay-rights priorities—after all, 14 states still had laws prohibiting what we did in our bedrooms. And, anyway, who wanted to ape heterosexual norms, really? ...

The AIDS epidemic was a war with no glory. The phrase “gay liberation” itself  began to feel bitterly ironic, as illness forced many more of us out of the closet, as we begged the world for some sympathy and help. We began to organize and help ourselves. Marriage was not on our minds....

He remembers, “There were many [gays] who didn’t care about marriage at all, and so they were not interested in working for marriage equality as a general principle. They didn’t see the political and social power of marriage as today’s generation does.”...

read ... An account by a Former Honolulu Weekly Editor

Leading Bikeshare Company Already bankrupt

MG: Bixi was not supposed to cost them a cent but Montreal taxpayers could be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars, the city admitted Monday.

The bike-sharing service's debt is almost $50 million.

Citing Bixi's "grim financial portrait," Mayor Denis Coderre announced he had forced the city-controlled non-profit company to enter bankruptcy protection.

Though he wants Bixi out of the international bike-sharing business, Coderre said he would like to see Bixi continue to roll in Montreal.

"We will have Bixi in Montreal this summer," he said, noting many users have purchased memberships. Keeping Bixi operating in the city in 2014 could cost taxpayers a further $1.5 million.

Coderre was less definitive about whether Montrealers will have access to bike-sharing beyond 2014.

Bixi is unable to neither "meet its financial obligations nor find a viable short-term solution," Coderre said. That was causing "uncertainty regarding the possible recovery of the sums injected by the city."

Bixi owes the city $31.6 million on a $37-million city loan. Montreal also guaranteed a line of credit on which Bixi owes $6.4 million.

read ... About What Caldwell is Bringing to Honolulu

Courts could be short-changing victim's fund

KITV: Hawaii has a commission to compensate victims of violent crimes for pain, suffering and out-of-pocket expenses. But is that commission being robbed by our judicial system?...

The Crime Victim Compensation Commission tries to reduce the financial impact of violent crimes by providing assistance with medical expenses, rehab, mental health treatment and more.

Funding for the program is supposed to come from every convicted offender who is or will be able to pay:

$30 for a petty misdemeanor
$55 for misdemeanor
$105-$505 for a felony

It is critical funding because it is matched by federal money.

In recent years, there has been a problem in getting courts to tack on the required fee to all offender sentences. In a number of those cases, the fees are waived.

"This is the lowest year in a decade of revenue for the compensation fee.

read ... Courts could be short-changing victim's fund

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