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Wednesday, January 7, 2015
January 7, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:46 PM :: 4723 Views

Charlie Hebdo: Martyrs for the Truth

Ige's Entry into Politics "Approved by President of Hawaiian Tel"

MW: ...early the Friday following Thanksgiving 1985, high school classmate Keith Hiraoka called. “Arnold Morgado had resigned his seat in the state House to run for City Council. Keith asked if I’d be interested in filling the vacancy. I said no. I was oblivious to politics. I didn’t know or care anything about it.

“Keith called again and asked me to talk to Jimmy Kumagai, then-chairman of the Democratic Party.” Ige met with Kumagai later in the morning. Kumagai offered a long-winded history of the Democratic Party in Hawaii and asked if he could add Ige’s name to a list of possible appointees to be submitted to then-Gov. George Ariyoshi.

“I called my wife Dawn at home and asked her what I ought to do. She said being added to the list would help with my next promotion at Hawaiian Tel, but not to worry, they wouldn’t pick me. So my name was added to the list.”

Mid-afternoon Kumagai called again, inviting Ige to meet with the governor. After a 20-minute talk in the kitchen area of Washington Place, Ariyoshi told Ige that he’d like to appoint him to the vacant House seat.

Ige hesitated. “I have to check with my boss,” he said to Ariyoshi, who had a press conference scheduled for 5:30, in which he wanted to announce an appointment. “I was sweating bullets. I had three engineering projects ongoing, and on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I couldn’t find a boss anywhere. So I was ready to say no, because I couldn’t lose my job.

“It’s 5:10, and I get a call from Charley Crane, the president of Hawaiian Tel. He said the governor had just called him to say he wanted to appoint me. He promised me the company’s complete support. ”

At the 5:40 p.m. news conference, Ariyoshi announced his appointment of 29-year-old David Ige to the Hawaii state House of Representatives.

Ige liked the work: “I saw immediately how an elected official could make a difference.” The following fall, he ran for a full two-year term, beating Kevin Kuroda, the better-known, better-financed son of popular state Sen. Joe Kuroda.

“I took a leave from the telephone company to campaign,” Ige remembers. “I had four brothers living in Waipahu. We held 40 coffee hours.”

Ige would work for Hawaiian Tel for 18 years, but politics derailed him from the fast track. (Pure BS.) “If you’re in a supervisor position, the distraction of politics is unfair to the people working for you.”

Still, a senior-level employee of a public utility in the Legislature raised questions of conflict. “Hawaiian Tel is a regulated public utility,” says Ige. “Seldom did legislation come before us that directly affected my employer. And the government affairs guys at the company knew enough to leave me alone.” (More BS....  After being elected to the Senate, Ige was appointed to be THE 'government affairs guy' at Hawaiian Tel.  Star-Bulletin, 1998: LINK)

read ... The Quiet Confidence Of David Ige

Rail Tax: Caldwell Hides behind Grabauskas' Skirts

SA: The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, the semiautonomous agency that oversees the project, was invested with substantial power when it was created via a voter-approved amendment to the City Charter in 2010. However, that authority does not include the ability to tax — or extending an existing tax past its original expiration date.

Now that the projected cost of the 20-mile rail transit system from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center has ballooned — potentially costing $700 million more than the $5.2 billion first envisioned — Mayor Kirk Caldwell seems too willing to hand off to a HART appointee the lead role in persuading the City Council and state Legislature to support extending the GET surcharge.

The mayor, speaking broadly about his support for rail after the biennial City Council inauguration at Honolulu Hale, observed that most major mass transit systems have a dedicated funding source that pays for construction, operations and maintenance. But he also said that he would leave it to HART Chief Executive Officer Daniel Grabauskas to lead the charge to extend the surcharge, which raises the regressive tax to 4.5 percent on Oahu, past its original sunset date of 2022.

That's a disappointing stance from a mayor who campaigned on the promise to "build rail better," and was elected in 2012 in part due to his support for rail transit and his pledges to "ensure better station design, less visual impact, tighter financial controls, and paying attention to community concerns."

In other words, Caldwell promised a nervous public that he would make sure rail was built right. It's time for him to make good on his promise — not hand it off to someone else.

Related: Mufi: HART Crying Wolf When there is no Crisis

read ... Rail tax is political issue

Thanks to Drop in Oil Prices, There's $55M More in State Revenue Forecast

KHON: At its last meeting in September 2014, the council projected a 3.5 percent increase in revenue. On Tuesday, it revised that forecast up a percentage point to 4.5 percent. That means the state is expected to have about $55 million more in its coffers.

The council also held steady its earlier forecast of 5.5-percent growth through the next six fiscal years.

“Some of the factors that went into our deliberations were the lower fuel costs, stronger U.S. economy, stronger U.S. dollar,” said council chair Kurt Kawafuchi.

“Right now, gas prices are down about a dollar a gallon in Hawaii and we think they’re going to continue to fall at least another quarter, maybe a little bit further,” said council member Carl Bonham,

“depends on what happens with oil prices and so that’s a net positive.”

The council also cited a strong tourism market as another bright spot in the state’s economy

read ... Oil Price Drops

The High Price of Wind Energy in Breezy Hawaii

CB: Oahu residents will be paying six times the national average for wind energy produced at the North Shore's newly approved Na Pua Makani wind farm.

read ... Rate Hikes Coming

Usual Suspects Push $38M Sugar Soda Tax -- $2.40 tax for a 6 pak

HNN: ...Representatives from the Hawaii Public Health Institute held a briefing at the capitol to inform lawmakers of their legislative prioritiesy for the upcoming session....

... It's a proposed one cent fee per ounce of sugar-sweetened beverage, syrup or powder.

Hence, a 20-ounce soda would come with a twenty cent fee. A six-pack of 12-ounce sodas would come with a $2.40 fee. The fees collected would then be put into a fund to help curb and prevent obesity.

Officials project $38 million in collected fees and an 8-10% reduction in consumption....

read ... Health officials bringing obesity fight to the Capitol

HGEA Too Busy to Answer Phones at DLIR Unemployment Office

Question: I have had to call the unemployment claims office at the state Department of Labor ever since I got laid off. Two numbers are provided -- 586-8970 and 586-8971 -- but it is nearly impossible to speak to someone, despite multiple attempts. I called 34 times between 2:45 and 4 p.m. one day. The numbers are "busy" till the office closes at 4 p.m., after which a message comes on to tell you that business hours are up to 4 p.m. I am concerned with this level of inefficiency, especially since there is no email to reach anybody in this department. How can I get my questions answered if nobody answers the phone?

Answer: "Budget constraints" have affected the Unemployment Insurance Division's ability to answer the phones, acknowledged William Kunstman, spokesman for the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

read ... Kokua Line

Army seeking community reactions to potential cuts

ILind: Two “listening sessions” are currently scheduled.

January 27, 6:30-9 p.m., Hale Koa Hotel, DeRussy Hall.

January 28, 6:30-9 p.m., Leilehua High School Cafeteria.

PDF: See the full meeting notice.

read ... Army seeking community reactions to potential cuts

Tulsi Gabbard Helps Businesses Avoid Obamacare by Hiring Vets

SAS: The measure was approved 412-0 and is the first of many expected GOP bills aimed at President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, which was enacted over uniform Republican opposition.

That 2010 law is phasing in a requirement that companies with more than 50 full-time workers provide medical coverage for their workers. The House bill, sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., would exempt from that threshold veterans who already get health care from the Veterans Affairs Department or the military.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he considered the bill "one piece of our ongoing efforts to fully repeal and replace" Obama's health care law.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, an Army National Guard member who has served in the Middle East, said the measure would help two important constituencies: veterans and small business.

"It's a great message and exactly the right tone" for the new Congress, Gabbard said.

A similar bill passed the House last year by 406-1, but went nowhere in the Democratic-run Senate. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., has introduced the same legislation in the Senate, which is now controlled by Republicans.

read ... Stars and Stripes

ILWU Slowdown Means Empty commissary shelves at Hickam

MT: "The challenges to supplying our stores in the Pacific are ongoing, and with continued West Coast port delays, we cannot determine when cargo movement patterns will return to normal," said Kevin Robinson, spokesman for the Defense Commissary Agency.

West Coast port delays are related to negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association and labor unions representing dock workers....

"However, we are doing everything possible — increasing our product reorders, looking for additional approved local sources and examining alternative shipping methods — to find work-around solutions to these problems," Robinson said.

A military wife said she visited the commissary at RAF Lakenheath, England, on Sunday to find shortages that "made my mouth drop. No lettuce, no salad, no orange juice, no chicken, no bread, hardly any yogurt and cheese, and half the fruits and vegetables were gone."

"I saw a lot of frustrated people. People upset and facing off with employees who didn't know what to tell them," she said.

Customers at some commissaries in Europe started seeing problems a few days before Christmas. "At European ports, sea containers were unable to clear customs when that process shut down and stalled deliveries of perishable items from Dec. 18 to 24," Robinson said....

Robinson said shipments to commissaries in Hawaii, Guam, South Korea, mainland Japan and Okinawa have been delayed up to 10 days. This has affected the ability of commissaries in the Pacific to keep shelves stocked with products such as yogurt, luncheon meat, butter, fresh bone-in meat and fresh pork.

Frozen and dry grocery products were unaffected by the West Coast port delays because a 30-day supply is kept in DeCA's central distribution centers, he said.

A sign on an empty shelf in the commissary at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, noted that the "West Coast port slowdown has impacted our distribution pipeline affecting our product availability. We apologize for this inconvenience and are working to minimize these product shortages." ....

read ... ILWU Slowdown

SHOPO Should Learn from Kauai Experience with Body Cams

KE: The cameras also proved useful in helping the police commission determine the validity of a complaint that an arrested man filed against an officer, alleging serious violations of the department's Standards of Conduct.

“Because he was wearing a body camera, we were able to review the entire event from beginning to end,” the chief wrote in an email. “It revealed that the officer acted appropriately, and that the allegations were fictitious to detract from his arrest for drugs and seizure of his vehicle. The officer was exonerated.”

The cameras also had another, unexpected result: “It’s funny how people’s attitude change and they become more civil when they realize that they too are being recorded,” the chief wrote.

Now that alone makes the body cams worthwhile in an era when citizens and activists are quick to use their cell phones to record or photograph demonstrations and other events involving police.

The police union, SHOPO, has opposed use of body cameras, contending that all the bugs haven't been worked out of the technology and that officers should consent to wearing them. However, the top brass feels that it's management's right to use the equipment because it doesn’t change the officers’ working conditions.

SA: Usual Soft on Crime Types Upset Because not Enough Criminals on Streets

read ... Attitude Change

HHSC Tops Kauai Legislators Agenda

KGI: “Policy to help make state government more efficient and effective will probably be priorities,” said District 16 State Rep. Daynette “Dee” Morikawa, (a former HGEA rep) who won her third term as the Westside representative in November.

The problems with the state’s Medicaid program will be looked into more thoroughly this session, Morikawa said. There will also be a push for a bill to authorize non-resident property crime victims to testify in criminal proceedings by a live two-way video connection.

“The Hawaii State Hospital System will also need legislation to allow them to become more sustainable,” she said.

District 14 State Rep. Derek Kawakami said he could not agree more about the importance to sustain Kauai’s two state hospitals that serve the north, east, and west communities.

“Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital and Mahelona Hospital are an integral part of improving the quality of life for our island but they continue to be challenged with dire economic realities that we must address to ensure the long-term sustainability of these two institutions,” Kawakami said.

read ... All Talk?

Public Utilities Commission ruling on wind proposal raises questions

IM: The Commission’s ruling on the wind farm discussed the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process.

The Consumer Advocate warns that "’an unconditional approval of the commission prior to the completion of the EIS would not fully consider all community objections and concerns’ and ‘may lead to distrust over the EIS process, because approval would appear to be presumptuous of the outcome of the EIS.’”

The Commission then rejected this approach. 

Although the EIS is a condition precedent to implementing the Project pursuant to HRS § 343-5(d), nothing in HRS Chapter 343 precludes a non-accepting agency such as the commission from approving a project prior to completion of an EIS.”

The Commission's ruling is entire consistent with their approach in past dockets where Life of the Land has raised similar requests. However, the Commission's interpretation is not consistent with state law nor consistent with court rulings.

Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) §343-5(e) states, “For an action that proposes the establishment of a renewable energy facility, a draft environmental impact statement shall be prepared at the earliest practicable time.”

In 1991 Federal Judge Judge Ezra issued a ruling in a Hawai`i geothermal lawsuit.

The [environmental impact] statement shall be prepared early enough so that it can serve practically as an important contribution to the decision-making process and will not be used to rationalize or justify decisions already made. [ ] The Ninth Circuit has further warned that ‘delay in preparing an EIS may make all parties less flexible.  After major investment of both time and money, it is likely that more environmental harm will be tolerated.’" 

In 2012 the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote, “NEPA requires that an EIS analyze environmental consequences of a proposed plan as soon as it is reasonably possible to do so.“

read ... Public Utilities Commission ruling on wind proposal raises questions

Minimum wage hike draws mixed reaction

WHT: Twenty-one-year-old Prici Jorju works to help support her two brothers and grandfather with her minimum-wage job at the Regal Prince Kuhio 9 Movie Theater at Prince Kuhio Plaza. As she worked Tuesday behind the concessions counter, the young woman said the additional money would make a difference in her budget, albeit a small one.

“It could have been higher,” she said of the increase, “but it’s certainly better now.”

Jorju said she typically works seven-hour shifts at the theater, and every little bit counts when one considers that “buying a gallon of milk is one hour of working,” she said.

“Everyone here is really nice, and the bosses are great, but I’m looking into a job at Target, where the minimum pay for cashiers is $12 an hour,” she said. “Hopefully, I’ll get a second interview.”

The Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce consistently opposed the increase on behalf of its members, due to the impact it would have on businesses, said Miles Yoshioka, executive officer of the chamber.

“While a small portion of employees actually earn the minimum wage, any increase to the minimum wage will cause wages to rise across the board,” he wrote Tuesday in an emailed response. “This rise in costs to the business without a corresponding increase in revenue will most likely reduce income and the ability of businesses to thrive and stay in business. The likely result of this increase in the minimum wage is a reduction in available jobs for those most in need of employment — and ironically for those the law hoped to benefit.

“Our businesses are suffering. They are trying to recover from a prolonged economic downturn. The last thing we need is to burden them with more costs that will either harm their businesses or increase inflation.”

In addition to the minimum wage increase, under certain conditions employers may pay tipped employees below the minimum wage by using a “tip credit.”

As of Jan. 1, employers with employees making minimum wage and at least $7 an hour in tips may pay the workers a lower rate of $7.25 an hour. That wage will go up to $7.75 an hour in 2016, $8.50 in 2017, and $9.35 an hour in 2018.

Brandon Dumlao, 25, who works as a server at Zippy’s in Prince Kuhio Plaza, said Tuesday that even though his wage would be going up, he didn’t anticipate seeing much of a boon from the extra money.

“I get child support taken out of my paychecks, so I don’t think I’ll see much,” he said of the increase. “I think it’s a good thing, though, that it’s going up.”

read ... Minimum wage hike draws mixed reaction

Maui News: Stay away from legal gambling

MN: Before the Legislature begins its session this year, we'd like to throw in our annual appeal to not put the state on the road to legal gambling.

We again would urge legislators to limit any such thoughts to a lottery associated with Powerball or Mega Millions, with the proceeds earmarked for education.

Any move to casino gaming or even slot machines would have serious consequences for the state. A new class of addicts would be born and there would be a further strain on our already stretched social service and criminal justice systems.

Families would be destroyed, lives would be ruined.

People are not going to come from the Mainland to gamble in Hawaii. If gambling is the reason for a trip, there are many locations much closer than our state.

Our experience in the Midwest showed busloads of senior citizens carted from neighboring cities to casinos. It made us realize one simple rule about gambling:

If a free bus ride is the lure that gets you to a casino, you can't afford to be there....

read ... You Can't Afford to be There

Maui: 1,000 Illegal TVRs

MN: It was a relief to see the Dec. 28 Maui News article announcing that the county Planning Department has begun proactive enforcement of zoning regulations regarding unpermitted bed-and-breakfasts and short-term rentals.

I've been watching, with growing concern, the proliferation of these illegal businesses on our island - from around 200 a few years ago, to more than 1,000 today.

How could such an exponential increase occur? By advertising for visitors on the Internet using global websites such as airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway and FlipKey.

read ... 1000 Illegal TVRs

Obamas’ holiday vacation costs more than $277K in police overtime

KHON: The Honolulu Police Department reported Tuesday that $277,585.08 was spent in overtime as backup security for the First Family’s holiday vacation.

Between the Obamas’ arrival on Dec. 12 to their departure on Jan. 3, police officers provided additional security for the Secret Service....

The total is less than last year, when the department incurred $293,731.99 in overtime costs.

At the time, Honolulu City Council member Ann Kobayashi said the city was not reimbursed by the federal government....

Related: DLNR cuts presidential security coverage

read ... $277,000

Kauai Garden Island Prints More Anti-Dairy Propaganda

KE: Just five days after The Garden Island printed a front-page article bashing the proposed dairy at Mahaulepu, it prints a guest editorial that essentially rehashes all the negativity of the original piece.

As a friend noted in a wry text: Glad TGI managed to find room for more coverage of Bridget Hammerquist's petition.

To which I replied: Can't have too much propaganda.

And propaganda is exactly what Jenica K Waymen and Michael Coon are advancing in their guest editorial, which raises the specter of “the eddy at Baby Beach in Poipu Beach Park covered with a scum of cow waste!” along with “stinking, black, fly-ridden, manure-polluted shores” and other such nonsense.

read ... Musings: Witch Hunt

Hawaii looking out for human trafficking on the open sea

KITV: Many crews from places like the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia.  But, out at sea, there's a growing problem -- the violation of human rights.

"This is more almost similar to like indentured servitude where people pay a certain fee to get a job and then they feel like they can't leave the job and they have to work it," said Capt. Shannon Gilreath, sector commander of the U.S. Coast Guard.  "That's our concern.  We don't want that to happen here."

Wills says Honolulu's port brings in about 600 crew members at any given time.  So far, he cites no cases of human trafficking in Hawaii, but says there are instances as close as American Samoa.  So, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are getting proactive and talking to crews.

"We are like the lifeline to these individuals.  We want to look at it as such.  We want them to know that there is some relief for them," said Wills.

read ... Lookout

Accountants Disciplined over 'Grossly Negligent' Audit of North Hawaii Community Hospital

FB: The accountants are Jerrel Lee Tucker and Richard Edson Jackson. The firm is TCA Partners.

They were disciplined for failing to properly plan audits, to obtain sufficient information or understand audits to determine risk and to comply with professional standards.

The audits were conducted at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital in eastern Kern County, North Hawaii Community Hospital, San Diego American Indian Health Center and Modoc County.

The accountants and the firm received five years probation each. They will be subject to review and are required to reimburse the board for investigation costs.

LINK: Disciplinary report

read ... The Fresno Bee

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