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Wednesday, April 22, 2015
April 22, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:27 PM :: 7071 Views

Governor, Legislators Come to 'Understanding' on Maui Hospital Partnership Bill

25% Tax Would Make State Senior Partner in Marijuana Business

Conference Committee Begins Negotiations on State Budget

Ira Einhorn, Earth Day's Dirty Secret

Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

Poll: Oahu Voters Against Rail Tax Hike 55%-35%

CB: On Oahu, 55 percent of voters oppose the GET extension for rail with 35 percent in support....

And half of those polled on Oahu still have negative feelings overall about the $6 billion project that’s struggling financially due to lower-than-expected tax collections, higher-than anticipated construction costs and legal expenses related to lawsuits.

read ... Poll Numbers

Oahu Burial Council Chair on Payroll of Kakaako Developer

B:  Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu (pretended to) crossed swords with developers on behalf of native Hawaiians for most of her his life, and spent the past eight years (pretending to) protecting the souls of departed ancestors as a member of the Oahu Island Burial Council.

This year, she he took a job as a 'consultant' for Ward Village, a $10 billion, 4,000-residence waterfront development by Howard Hughes Corp., advising the Dallas-based company on proper treatment of unearthed human remains and sacred sites.  (Just about the time that the corrupt Halau Lokahi charter school he used to work for was shut down.)

“I negotiated a modest (LOL!) contract so I can pay my bills,” said Wong-Kalu, 41, outgoing chairwoman of the council, a state board overseeing the protection of ancestral Hawaiian burial grounds. “One day I look forward to being able to afford one of the affordable rentals in the development.” ...

(Translation: He didn't even bother to wait until he was off the Council to cash in.)

Ward Village is rising amid a warren of strip malls, auto repair shops and Quonset huts that often smells of leaking sewers, according to Wong-Kalu, the consultant. She He agreed to work with Howard Hughes because of the developer’s “exemplary record” of cooperating with native descendants.

“If this were virgin land elsewhere on the island, untouched and pristine, I’d probably have a different attitude toward the development,” Wong-Kalu said. “However, this is in the urban core and a place that was in sore need of revitalization.”

PDF: Wong-Kalu Financial Disclosure 2014

Fascinating Book: The Perfect Servant

read ... Tranny on the Payroll of the Developer

BOE weighs anal sex policy

SA: The board heard nearly two hours of public testimony at its monthly meeting Tuesday, and is expected to vote on the sex education policy next month.

Thirty individuals, many identifying themselves as parents and church members, testified against the policy change. Some accused the DOE and BOE of trying to “sexualize” students at a young age and “normalize” homosexuality by teaching about anal and oral sex.

“I support sex education in the context of a biological study of male-female reproduction in the context of a health course that is medically accurate and relates all the risks associated with that behavior and stresses to young people: delay, delay, delay,” testified state Rep. Bob McDermott (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point), who has been an outspoken critic of Pono Choices....

read ... Sex Ed

Money at Center of Anti-Telescope Lawsuit

ILind: One of the most important mitigating measures approved by the land board was a community benefits package that include the funding of education programs, scholarships, and work force training programs costing a million dollars a year over the planned life of the TMT, with the overall benefits presumably balancing off negative impacts of the project.

Telescope opponents say the economic benefits simply do not address the environmental and cultural impacts, which must be considered first because of the conservation zoning of the summit area.

Further, they argue that the land board’s rules do not authorize a balancing of environmental damage with economic benefits. In this case, they say, money can’t be allowed to do the talking....

read ... Rent Collectors

Regents to Discuss Telescope Deal in Hilo Sunday

KHON: Protesters requested that the environmental impact statement process be reopened on the master lease from DLNR to the University of Hawaii, which manages activity atop the volcano, to allow their participation. They also asked for a 30-day extension to the moratorium.

“A lot of people look at TMT as a Hawaiian issue or science issue, but it’s not either. It’s a human issue,” said Ruth Aloua of Mauna Kea Ohana. “So there’s a lot of things at stake and a lot of it deals with the desecration of the sacred temple in an area that many Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians have a spiritual connection to.”

The request comes as the university’s Board of Regents sets another special meeting to discuss management on Mauna Kea.

It is set for Sunday, April 26, at 11:30 a.m. the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Performing Arts Center.

Testimony will be accepted via mail, email at bor@hawaii.edu and in person with a three-minute time limit.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs went on record Monday, urging the governor and UH president David Lassner to reach a solution to the conflict.

read ... BoR

Hawaii County Officials Squelch First Attempt at Kenoi Recall Petition

WHT: Last month, a newspaper story revealed the mayor had routinely used the county card for personal expenses, including charges at a pair of hostess bars and to purchase a high-end surfboard. Since then, his financial records have come under increased scrutiny, resulting in a state attorney general investigation, county ethics complaints against the mayor and the county finance director, and even a petition calling for a recall election.

That petition, initiated Monday by Russell H. Doi of Hilo, was found to be invalid Tuesday since he is not a registered voter, said Pat Nakamoto, county Elections Division administrator (crony of Scott Nago).

read ... Running Interference for Boss Billy

Worthless Hawaii County Council Supports Kenoi in pCard flap 

WHT: Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung said the nine-member council has no role to play at this time....

Puna Councilman Greggor Ilagan, however, sees a problem. And depending on the results of the county legislative auditor’s internal audit of the county-issued pCards, expected to be released in June, he will consider introducing legislation....

Hamakua Councilwoman (and Larry Mehau associate) Valerie Poindexter said she is not one to drum up unnecessary controversy and that the attorney general should be allowed to conduct its investigation. Kenoi, she said, deserves due process.

“We need to allow that process to take place,” she said. “It’s not, right now, in our jurisdiction.”

In an emailed response, Ka‘u/South Kona Councilwoman Maile David took a similar position, saying the attorney general and county ethics board are the proper authorities.

“I am also hopeful that the audit of all (pCard) use being conducted by the legislative auditor may bring forth recommendations that could streamline and/or limit use of (pCards) in the future,” she wrote. “I do look forward to this matter being thoroughly examined and addressed through these independent investigations.”

Puna Councilman Daniel Paleka said there is likely another side of the story — the expenses the mayor has incurred on his own dime and for which he has not sought reimbursement.

“There’s times when I’ve provided refreshments at meetings … I’m sure our mayor has done the same, and of course that’s not reported,” Paleka said.

In the end, Paleka said he supports Kenoi  (owned and operated) ....

Chung said it’s important the public understand his opposition to getting involved doesn’t mean he’s trying to protect Kenoi. (Know them by what they deny.)

Council Chairman Dru Kanuha and Councilman Dennis Onishi did not return mutiple phone calls seeking comment.

read ... Council takes passive approach to pCard flap 

Kenoi Attempts to Emerge from Hiding With Help from Cronies on Hawaii Co Council

WHT: Mayor Billy Kenoi will present his proposed $434 million budget to the Hawaii County Council today but will not be able to answer questions regarding use of his county credit card for personal expenses, a spokesman said.  (And the cronies on the council will not ask.)

“He is going to present the budget like he has in the past,” Peter Boylan, an executive assistant to Kenoi, said, (instructing the council) late Tuesday, adding the mayor will not answer questions regarding the controversy because of an ongoing state attorney general investigation (insert excuse here).

The appearance will be Kenoi’s first before the council since Big Island newspapers reported he used his county purchasing card, or pCard, for personal expenses. He has reimbursed the county $31,112.59 for non-work costs.

Earlier in the week, Boylan had only two words when asked if the mayor planned to attend today’s meeting: “No comment.”

The mayor’s office also turned down an opportunity to respond to those calling for Kenoi to resign in light of the controversy. The mayor took time off Thursday and Friday to “reflect and be with his family (image consultants),” Boylan wrote in an email Friday.

This week, county department heads are presenting their budgets before the council’s Finance Committee. Kenoi is scheduled to present an overview of the operating and capital budgets and programs this morning. Up until Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear whether Kenoi would show up (but with the acquiescence of his cronies, he will attempt to act like everything is now AOK).

read ... Will You be Fooled?

HB1286: Legislators Pass Anti-LNG Bill 

HECO said it supports the bill, HB 1286, because it matches the utility's plans.

"We welcome the bill as passed because it is consistent with our plans for getting Hawaii off oil for electricity in favor of a clean, cheap fuel to transition to a renewable energy future," said Peter Rosegg, HECO spokes­man.

NextEra Energy Inc. the Florida-based company looking to buy HECO's parent company, Hawaiian Electric Industries, said it supports the utility's LNG plans.

Organizations including the Blue Planet Foundation and the Sierra Club have opposed shipping liquefied natural gas to Hawaii. The groups argue that utilities should put their efforts into increasing renewable energy use rather than looking for cheaper fossil fuels.

The bill states that "it shall be the policy of this state to … ensure that liquefied natural gas is used only as a cost-effective transitional, limited-term replacement of petroleum for electricity generation and does not impede the development and use of other cost-effective renewable energy sources."

The bill also says it should be the objective of the state to "increase energy security and self-sufficiency through the reduction and ultimate elimination of Hawaii's dependence on imported fuels for electrical generation and ground transportation."

Blue Planet Foundation testified in favor of the bill because it restricts the use of LNG and sets a goal of eliminating dependence on imported fuels.

read ... Anything for the solar and wind contractors

Bill in Congress Will Grant Flexibility to School Boards, Principals

SA: Kudos to U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patti Murray for crafting a compromise bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that surprisingly shows so much common sense and proposes greater flexibility to the states....

In a recent survey by the Education Institute of Hawaii, principals expressed strong criticism of these top-down, one-size-fits-all mandates, and bemoan the lack of flexibility at the school level to tailor the instructional program to best meet the needs of the children in their school community.

The new bill to reauthorize the ESEA will change the name "No Child Left Behind" to "The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015," and will curb the authority of the U.S. Department of Education to control state education systems. It will further:

» Maintain annual student testing, but will leave to the states the decision on the choice of the test and how to use the scores.

» Prohibit the federal government from mandating to states how to fix or reform a low-performing school.

» Allow states, not require states, to create a teacher evaluation system.

» Allow states, not require states, to adopt or maintain a set of standards, which could include the Common Core standards.

» Allow states, not require states, to establish accountability programs for low-performing schools.

If this bill is enacted, Hawaii's DOE superintendent and the Board of Education will have to exercise independent leadership to improve our schools without relying on top-down federal mandates. If they work in partnership with principals and teachers in each of our unique schools, the outcome will be positive for students and for those responsible for their learning. Let's hope they listen to the school-level folks who work directly with our children.

read ... ESEA

Hawaii Legislature negotiates state’s $26B budget

AP: "We were able to at least come to an agreement on some of the easier items at this point, and we have other tough negotiations ahead," said Rep. Sylvia Luke, chairman of the House Finance committee.

Both committees agreed to direct $100,000 a year to the lieutenant governor's office to fund a new position that would enforce a state law which encourages state agencies to post information online.

The committees also agreed to the governor's request to approve $131,436 to fund two new pesticide surveillance positions over the next two years.

The zipper lane, which recently had a major malfunction causing catastrophic traffic delays, would get an infusion of $921,000 a year.

The committees haven't yet agreed on how much to spend on major budget items including the University of Hawaii and programs to provide more affordable housing....

For the state's Housing First program, which provides housing to the most vulnerable chronically homeless individuals, the Senate wants to add $1.9 million in both fiscal years, while the House wants to add $1.5 million in just the first year.

The fate of the Rental Housing Trust Fund, which is used to finance loans to developers to build affordable housing, is also uncertain. Gov. David Ige had requested $100 million for the fund, and the Senate suggested $50 million, but the House did not allocate any money to that item....

The conference committee will meet again Friday afternoon.

read ... Budget

Hawaii Hospitals 2nd Slowest to Adopt EHR

HIT: In 2014, seventy-six percent of hospitals had adopted at least a basic EHR system that can accept clinical notes and perform other simple functionalities, and 96.9 percent had implemented or agreed to implement a certified EHR technology that can be used to attest to meaningful use.

While a few states such as Hawaii, Kansas, West Virginia, and Kentucky remain significantly below the national average, hovering between 50 and 65 percent, basic hospital EHR adoption has reached 100 percent in Delaware and more than ninety percent in South Dakota, Virginia, Maryland, and Arkansas.

read ... EHR

Are schools equipped to handle population boom in Kakaako?

KHON: About 5,000 new condominium units are scheduled to go up in the next couple of years.

We wanted to know what the state plans to do if more schools are needed.

KHON2 spoke with the Department of Education and the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which approves the permits for the Kakaako developments. They say there are some challenges in figuring out exactly what type of school will be needed, if at all.

As the construction boom continues, the HCDA estimates that in the next 15 years, the population in Kakaako will double to 30,000 people.

So the DOE has to figure out how many of them will be kids and how many will go to public schools....

McKinley High School’s principal says there’s plenty of room. The current enrollment is more than 1,600 students while the capacity is 2,100.

Principal Ron Okamura told KHON2 there’s been a drop-off in enrollment at schools in town because bigger families have moved to West Oahu where homes are more affordable.

“You see a lot of the families migrating out to those types of areas where they can afford a house versus staying in here where they would have to rent or they have to live in condominiums,” Okamura said.

read ... Kakaako

Students Raise Money for Campbell HS AC

CB: The students are holding an Earth Day launch party for the project on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Kakaako Agora. Tickets are free and can be reserved here. Donations can be made online through May 16.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the fundraising website showed $2,270 in promised donations, but the students have closer to $10,000 in total pledges, said Tiffany Quezada, the group’s mentor at the Center for for Tomorrow’s Leaders. They hope to raise $19,000 to pay for two solar-hybrid air conditioning units for Campbell.

read ... AC

Impact on shareholders if the Hawaiian Electric merger fails to go through?

ILind: HEI further believes it is reasonable to assume that, if investors widely believed that the merger will not be completed for any reason, the price at which a seller of HEI common stock could find a willing buyer would in all likelihood be lower than it would be if the merger is expected to be completed.

read ... Impact on shareholders if the Hawaiian Electric merger fails to go through?

Attention Protesters: Egg Farm Planned for Oahu Ag Land

PBN: The partnership involves California’s Hidden Villa Ranch, one of the largest egg distributors in the U.S., and Indiana’s Rose Acre Farms, one of the nation’s biggest egg producers.

Michael Sencer, an executive vice president with Hidden Villa Ranch, told PBN that his company has been working on the project with Scott Enright, chairman of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

“While the size of the project has not yet been determined, we believe a project that increases employment and produces fresher food to the marketplace helps advance the goals of the Department of Agriculture,” Sencer told PBN in an email. “With the guidance of the Department of Agriculture, we continue to believe this project has a high probability of success.”

Enright told PBN this week that the project is tentatively planned for Dole Food Co.-owned lands in Wahiawa in Central Oahu and could involve 1 million hens housed in a state-of-the-art facility.

A development timeline has not been set yet, although Sencer said it could happen as quickly as the permitting process allows.

Related: Kauai Anti-Dairy Obsessives Raise $200K for Lawsuit

read ... About what they will be protesting next

Lawmakers consider expanding sit-lie law to Kapalama Canal

KHON: The council will take up a bill Wednesday that would expand the sit-lie law to the Kapalama area. Under Bill 6, the sit-lie law -- which currently pertains to Chinatown, Waikiki and more than 10 other Oahu locations -- would also cover parts of Kohou and Kokea Streets, along with the expanded sidewalk area.

The council will meet at 10 a.m. To see the agenda, click here.

read ... Kapalama

Homeless from Indiana, California need to be Forced into Shelters 

SA: "Big D," from Indianapolis, heads a group of five or six who can often be found at one of the Waikiki beachfront pavilions....

His friend, Nicole, and a male friend of hers, were trying to catch some sleep on the pavement at our feet. She's 30-ish, from San Francisco, and said that she's had jobs that paid well, but she's choosing not to work. The two sprawled on soiled sheets sprinkled with sand and listened to our conversation. It was obvious that they all had alcohol problems....

"Years ago, Hannemann tried to get rid of us. Nothing happened. Besides, the cops are our friends. They come by and give us money and stuff."

It's unlikely that the group is going to move anytime soon. Directly across the street, St. Augustine's Church offers a free meal, Monday through Friday, at 11 a.m. Today it was chili dogs. Besides that meal, they can use their food stamp allocation to get by. And they have a great beachside location. Life might not be great, but it's good enough.

The mayor is on the right track. If he doesn't push, the homeless just aren't going to get the help they so badly need. And Big D and friends need help.

They just don't know it.

read ... Push

Star-Adv: Bills to Provide Emergency Housing Now

SA: Here are a few of the remaining proposals presented Friday by the Legislature's Task Force on Housing and Homelessness:

» House Bill 1354 would authorize bonds to finance projects to increase public- and affordable-housing stock.

» Senate Bill 1101 would extend the availability of an exemption from the state civil service law, making it easier to hire people for repair and maintenance of public housing units.

» SB 971 ensures that anyone seeking a general excise tax exemption for delivering new or rehabilitated housing units meets enhanced affordability rules for the units. The units must stay in the affordable inventory for various periods — five years for moderate rehabilitation work, 10 years for substantial work and 30 years for new construction.

» SB 1299 would allot up to $38 million in conveyance tax revenues to the Rental Housing Trust Fund. This is getting pushback from agencies that would get less in the deal. The reality, however, is that the homelessness and affordable housing problem demands a higher priority be given to keeping this fund flush.

What's most ironic is that, more than a half-dozen years ago, Republican Gov. Linda Lingle started the ball rolling for homelessness relief, issuing an emergency proclamation to accelerate creation of shelters and transitional homes in Honolulu, Waianae and other Leeward Oahu sites.

Those initiatives were not perfect, but they were certainly quick, by comparison.

It's shameful that Hawaii's current government, in which there is no partisan divide, hasn't served the community with faster, better coordinated solutions.

read ... Not as good as Lingle

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