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Thursday, March 19, 2015
March 19, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:08 PM :: 4756 Views

Kanaiolowalu: Did They Steal Your Name?

Full Text: 2015 Hawaii Public School Principals' Survey

Secretive Subsidies, Tax Credits Make Hawaii 7th-Least Transparent in USA

Former Employees Sue Ormat: Geothermal Firm Lied to Get Stimulus Cash

Hawaii: The Place for "Really Crazy" Energy Ideas

Marijuana: Big Tobacco's Playbook

Coming to a Ladies Room Near You: Transsexual Birth Certificate Passes Senate Health Committee 4-2

Online Travel Companies Win Big Before Hawaii Supreme Court

Bond refinancing saves Honolulu taxpayers nearly $44 million

Auditor Hammers Legislators' Special Funds: 43 of 44 Do Not Meet Criteria

Billionaires, Anti-GMO Activists Re-Shape Kauai

KE: ...Big changes are under way on Kauai, and curiously, some folks who profess to love the island just as it is are helping to hasten that transition.

Let's start with Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, who's worth about $32 billion. Last year he bought the 357-acre Kahuaina parcel at Waipake and the 393-acre piece on the coast at Pilaa, for well over $100 million.

Now Zuckerberg is buying up all the kuleana lots in Pilaa. Rick and Amy Marvin sold out for a reported $17 million, and Rick's brother did, too. Zuckerberg is now working on acquiring the Huddy piece, and word has it he's scouring other titles for weak links that will give him an in. The goal is to create his own private playground, though Gary Stewart of Melange International in Denver has a 10% interest in the Pilaa property.

Meanwhile, Barron's is talking about an overheated second-home market, and the appeal of the North Shore:

After the median price fell 4.2% on the north shore of Kauai, Hawaii, we have made Hanalei our top resort of the year.

Uh, except Hanalei was never supposed to be a resort — until the county let the vacation rental industry explode....

Meanwhile, as Barron's and Hollywood continue to extol the virtues of fantasy island, folks like Christine Queen of Kapaa are advocating for an idealized, unrealistic approach to farming that is destined to further hasten the collapse of ag on this island.

In her letter to the editor today she writes:

I don’t think many of us are against having a dairy farm or two on the island. It would certainly help in our efforts toward sustainability, but the proposed dairy at Mahaulepu is a factory farm. I drove by a small version of such a farm back in Michigan on a regular basis. It stank, and I’d estimate it only housed 200 cows. We should encourage and support smaller, locally owned dairies in suitable locations around the island.

So if even 200 cows is too many, what is a suitably-sized diary that won't incur the wrath and litigation of neighbors who have bought on or near ag land? And has Christine or any of her allies stopped to think about whether 10 or 15 or 50 cows could be economically viable, considering the many health and environmental regulations a dairy must meet?

Currently, the only dairy I know of is the Wooten's goat farm, and they're just selling very expensive goat cheese. Why? Because that's the only way to make money. Though some would love the pastoral ideal of Bossie and her calf grazing in a meadow, that is not an economically viable model, and it's not going to feed folks — especially those who can't afford pricey artisanal food.

read ... Musings: Fantasy Island

Vote Against Ching Was 13-12

HNN: ...Wednesday's last minute decision to withdraw Ching's nomination came after a backroom count resulted in 13-12 against the confirmation, according to a political insider who adds, support for Ching fell apart Tuesday night when two senators who were on the bubble changed their 'yes' to a 'no'.

Following Wednesday's announcement, Sen. Sam Slom, who voted in Ching's favor during the committee hearing, said he was disheartened.

"We've besmirched the good character of an individual in the community. We lose an opportunity to get a fresh pair of eyes," Sen. Slom said....

SA: Ching "may have another option to do something else."

Sen. Lorraine Inouye (D, Kaupulehu-Waimea-North Hilo) was visibly upset about the withdrawal on Wednesday. Speaking on the Senate floor, she described Ching as a "hope and the need for change" within DLNR, which she said has caused much uncertainty for some small businesses and hotels, particularly on Hawaii island, by not awarding long-term leases to them.

"I think we need to stop this crazy cancer that is in the division of DLNR," Inouye said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Sam Slom, the chamber's lone Republican, blasted his Democratic colleagues for depriving the public of a chance to hear them discuss publicly the nomination.

"They were wimps not to vote in front of us," added Paula Ress, a Kailua resident and opponent of Ching's nomination.

read ... 13-12

Unanimous House Approves $25.7B Budget

CB: The House voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of its draft of the overall state budget, a $25.7 billion spending plan for the next two years.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Jill Tokuda, will take up House Bill 500 and make whatever changes it sees fit before sending it to the full Senate for its approval.

Differences between the House and Senate versions will be ironed out later next month in a joint conference committee.

The House Finance Committee, chaired by Sylvia Luke, snipped $226 million off Gov. David Ige’s initial request when it was heard last week. And the administration’s budget request was $300 million less than what departments sought....

read ... House Sends $25.7 Billion State Budget to Senate

Kolea: Another $144M Spent on Malfunctioning Health Insurance Software, IT System

SA: House Concurrent Resolution 104, which was slated to be heard Thursday morning, should be promptly adopted as a prerequisite to the state auditor to do the necessary study of the system, which was developed through a $144 million contract, $96 million of which is already spent.

Most of that comprises federal funds, but it's drawn fire from state lawmakers as well as providers of Hawaii's health-care safety net. The latter group has complained of information technology problems with the online process — the system freezing, losing information and the like.

Some of the general public frustration likely arises from similar IT problems with the Hawaii Health Connector, the health insurance online marketplace that was rolled out with myriad malfunctions in October 2013. According to some of the complaints, the two systems haven't interfaced with each other well at all.

Over time there have been improvements, but the complaints peaked again during a recent Kolea system upgrade.

read ... DHS Audit

Board Member Financial Disclosures May Be Released Sooner Than Expected

CB: The public may get to see the financial disclosures statements of certain state board members a year earlier than expected.

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission agreed Wednesday to send a memo out to board members later this week letting them know that their financial disclosure statements for 2014 will be released if they file a short-form report this year.

Alternatively, the board members will have the option of filing a new long-form disclosure statement for 2015. The reports are due by June 1.

Either way, the Ethics Commission’s decision should lead to more timely disclosures for board members affected by a law the Hawaii Legislature passed unanimously last year. Earlier commission decisions had clouded the issue of when the disclosures would be required....

PDF: Ethics Agenda

read ... Disclosure

Hawaii Legislature in Session? Time to Raise Campaign Money!

CB: ...four state House representatives will gather in the evening at Mandalay Restaurant to raise campaign cash.

Those legislators are Sylvia Luke (chairwoman of House Finance, which crafts the budget), Scott Nishimoto (chairman of Legislative Management and vice chairman of Finance), Mark Nakashima (chairman of Labor and Public Employment) and Aaron Ling Johanson, a former Republican who now sits as a Democrat on Finance as well as Labor and Public Employment.

Each representative is asking for contributions of $100 per donor. What the contributors might ask in return — e.g., support for a bill, pay raises for public employees, a special purpose revenue bond for a project — is not known, at least to me....

read ... Hawaii Legislature in Session? Time to Raise Campaign Money!

Bill would restore budget cut to Hawaii preschool subsidies

PBN: A bill to restore $6 million in funding for Hawaii's state preschool subsidy program is still moving through the state Legislature.

Senate Bill 64, which has crossed over to the state House of Representatives, would restore funding for the Preschool Open Doors program for the next two fiscal years.

Former Gov. John Waihee created POD in 1990 to assist eligible families with Pre-K tuition, and 248 preschools currently participate.

Good Beginnings Alliance Policy Advocate Jeannine Souki told PBN that there was a 54 percent increase in POD applications over the last year. This year 1,287 children are enrolled statewide.

read ... Preschool

After Burning Trust Fund, Kahoolawe commercial activity ban finally reconsidered

MN: A bill making its way through the state Legislature would overturn a long-standing law that prohibits all commercial activity on or around Kahoolawe.

An amended version of Senate Bill 897, introduced by Sens. J. Kalani English, Roz Baker and Russell Ruderman, would authorize limited revenue-generating activities within the Kahoolawe Island Reserve, subject to approval by the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission. The bill also appropriates money to the commission for management, restoration and preservation of the reserve and requires the commission to submit a financial self-sufficiency sustainability plan to the Legislature.

read ... Money All Gone

Honolulu Prosecutor, HPD Fail to Pursue Case Against $700K Embezzler

SA: ...The charges accuse Pitolo of stealing the money from Waianae Community Outreach and the state between March 2007 and July 2010. The state is listed as a victim because WCO receives state money to operate the transitional shelter.

The Attorney General's Office said Pitolo stole the money by writing unauthorized checks to herself and others and by making unauthorized ATM withdrawals and debit card transactions.

The organization sued Pitolo in 2013, alleging she stole $732,046 in operational and client trust funds.

Pitolo has failed to appear in all three court hearings on the lawsuit.

Former WCO Executive Director Sophina Placencia said the organization's board of directors fired Pitolo in May 2010 after she discovered Pitolo had stolen money. At that time, Placencia said, WCO was aware of the theft of just $69,000. She said she filed a police report two months later based on that amount.

In April 2013, WCO learned that police had not filed criminal charges against Pitolo and that the three-year statute of limitations was about to run out. So the organization filed the lawsuit against Pitolo....

To prosecute Pitolo, the Attorney General's Office is invoking a portion of the law that starts the three-year statute of limitations from the date the crime was discovered, if it involves fraud, deception or a breach of a fiduciary obligation....

read ... Woman charged in theft from homeless shelter

Outside counsel sought for officer involved in fatal crash

HTH: Attorney Brian DeLima is requesting funds for private legal counsel to represent Jody Buddemeyer, the Hawaii Police Department officer who authorities say struck and killed a Michigan man riding his bicycle in South Kohala.

DeLima said Wednesday that there is information about the March 1 incident that must be verified, and which he thinks will shed light on the circumstances that led to 63-year-old Jeffrey Surnow’s death.

read ... Fatal

Waste-to-energy idea laudable, but Anaergia’s plan not sustainable

MN: Anaergia proposes to have two different products: a Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) and methane gas. For the RDF, it would squeeze trash into small pellets and try to sell that product as fuel. I am skeptical there are buyers for this material on Maui. Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. is the only facility on Maui that still has an old-fashioned boiler capable of using this sort of solid fuel. All of Maui Electric's units and all of the county's generators run on liquid fuel. This RDF is basically marketed as a "hamburger helper" for coal. It is a cheap filler material. HC&S is the only importer of coal to Maui, and its air permits are under enough scrutiny I cannot imagine why it would take the risk of burning this material.

read ... Not Sustainable

Creagan: Get Pharmacists Off My Island

WHT: As the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy prepares to begin construction of its new permanent building on the University of Hawaii at Hilo campus, one Big Island legislator is asking whether the school should be here at all.

House Resolution 100, introduced Friday by state Rep. Richard Creagan, D-Naalehu, requests that the University of Hawaii study the feasibility of uprooting the nascent pharmacy program and moving it to Kakaako in Honolulu.

In return, the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources would be moved from Manoa to Hilo.  (A giant hand will pluck them off of their respective islands and toss them across the sea.)

In explaining the reasoning behind the move, the resolution states that “some observers have suggested that certain developments, such as locating the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the university’s Hilo campus, may not be aligned with the principal mission of that campus.”

read ... Insane

Bikelane Scary, Tricky, Harder

KHON: ...just last week, a bicyclist was hit by a vehicle.

The incident brought up the concern of possible blindspots where bicyclists cannot be seen by drivers.

Still, when it comes to Honolulu’s bike lane, many people agree....

“It’s a little scary,” said bicyclist Mark Miyata. “Drivers turning into the driveways.”

Drivers must ease their way into any driveway near the bike lane to avoid hitting a bicyclist.

It can also be tricky for those riding a bike, especially if there’s a car parked right next to the entrance.

“It makes it harder. I almost have to come to a stop to make the turn because they’re parked right up to the driveway,” Nakano said.

After our story last week and hearing more concerns, KHON2 went back to the city to find out if anything could be done.

As for removing parking stalls, Mike Formby, director of the Honolulu Dept. of Transportation Services, said, “Yeah, that’s absolutely a possibility. You know we’re always evaluating the King Street protected bike lane.”...

“We always hope bicyclists act prudently. We’ve always said it’s not a freeway for bicyclists,” Formby said.

The city is also working on making the lane two-way. Officials gave us a sneak peek of the traffic signals that just arrived. It will be installed for Ewa-bound bicyclists by the end of May.

If the city makes those changes to the bike lane, they will also happen by the end of May.

read ... Safe?

FTC Requires Antitrust Fixes On $107M Par Petroleum Deal

L360: The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday cleared Par Petroleum Corp.’s $107 million acquisition of a unit of Koko’oha Investments Inc. on the condition that the Texas-based energy company agrees to give up certain rights at a key gasoline terminal in Hawaii, defusing antitrust concerns.

The FTC said that as proposed, Par’s merger with Mid Pac Petroleum LLC would give the company storage and throughput rights to a competitor's terminal off the island of Oahu, which it could use to hamper its rival’s ability to import gasoline

read ... Law 360

Sex, Drugs and Inequality

CB: Among other differences, top-tier parents make more money, have more stable marriages, spend more quality time with their children, eat more family meals together, send their children to better schools from pre-school on, have more knowledge about colleges and have a much richer network of mentors and neighbors to draw upon.

Compared to the upper tier, lower-tiered families are more likely to headed by a single parent and more likely to have children born out of wedlock.

And of course the lower-tier families have more stress. These stresses can affect a child’s brain in ways that begin very early in infancy and are very difficult to overcome.

read ... An Argument for 'experts' to take control of poor people's children

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