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Thursday, June 11, 2015
June 11, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:44 AM :: 3694 Views

Three Steps to Turn Hawaiian Homelands into Indian Tribe

Full Text: UH files lawsuit against former men’s head basketball coach

Study: Hawaii 4th Best State for Teen Drivers

US House Votes to Permanently Ban Hawaii's Tax on Internet Access

Kamehameha: The Founding of the Hawaiian Kingdom

Rail: The Cost is the Benefit

Media: Court Orders Release of Native Hawaiian Roll

Rail Operating Costs Pegged at $1.7B, Tax Hikes Planned

CB: HART’s best guess is that running the trains will cost at least $1.7 billion for just the first 12 years. City financial documents suggest officials likely will raise property taxes to pay for operations and maintenance....

read ... Rail Operating Costs: A Looming Financial Crisis That Will Cost Taxpayers Billions

HGEA: We Will Make Privatization as Expensive as Possible

SA: ...The new law was strongly opposed by the United Public Workers union and the Hawaii Government Employees Association, which both have members working at the hospital facilities. HGEA has about 800 union members among the Maui Memorial employees, and another 50 at the Kula facility.

House Speaker Joe Souki said Wednesday lawmakers were under “extreme pressure” to vote against the bill.

“You’re talking about a bill that’s only going to be affecting Maui, not the other jurisdictions in the state, so they have no reason to vote for the bill, especially because (of) the pressure that was upon them,” he said of his fellow lawmakers.

Souki praised the House and Senate leadership for rounding up enough votes to pass the bill “under this very stressful situation.”

The new law guarantees there will be no employee layoffs for six months after any takeover, a concession that was sought by the unions.

Randy Perreira, executive director of HGEA, has predicted that the transition to a privately run facility will turn out to be far more expensive than lawmakers expect.

The union cites state Department of Budget and Finance estimates that when the Maui hospital employees are moved into private-sector jobs, those workers will be owed an estimated $114 million that the state must pay to cash out their accrued leave benefits and compensatory time.

The hospital workers also will be owed hundreds of millions of dollars more in pension and retirement medical costs, and the entire package could cost the state $320 million, Perreira has said.

MN: Selection of partner, terms of agreement expected by year’s end

read ... Privatization

Star-Adv: New HSTA Leaders Must End Their Attack on Testing

SA: ...Rosenlee, elected president with 56.4 percent of the vote, and his cohorts are unabashed advocates for higher teacher pay and better working conditions and promise to continue the kind of transparent activism that elevated them to statewide prominence. Rosenlee launched the Hawaii Teachers Work to Rules protest in 2011 to oppose teacher pay cuts and the movement has evolved to advocate for air-conditioned classrooms and other improvements.

Their open approach, which includes a strong social media presence, should engage a greater number of teachers in the field -- only about 24 percent of eligible HSTA members voted in this election -- which is likely to translate to political action. Moreover, it is important to raise key education issues to the level of detailed attention they deserve from Hawaii's population, and in particular from state lawmakers and the governor, who are instrumental in deciding the DOE's budget.

HSTA's incoming president seems more outspokenly provocative in general and has been more openly critical of the DOE than current, long-serving union leaders, but top DOE administrators should readily engage the new HSTA team nonetheless. The trio will have a steep learning curve; Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi should welcome the opportunity to help them adapt to their new roles.

How well and how quickly Rosenlee, in particular, transitions from instigator, agitator and antagonist to become an effective union president able to partner with the department that employs some 13,500 HSTA members could determine the success of his three-year term, and his prospects for a second one....

If Hawaii Teachers for Change are to succeed in fulfilling their campaign promises of "fair" pay, elimination of high-stakes performance evaluations, respect for teachers and social justice -- which collectively would carry an undetermined but predictably hefty price tag -- Rosenlee, Hughey and Perruso will have to broaden their pitch to include all Hawaii stakeholders in the discussion.

It can't all be about what the teachers want. It has to be about what the students need, and by extension, about what Hawaii needs in order to maintain a viable, sustainable society for generations to come. High academic standards, more engaging, rigorous course offerings and testing that assures that students have learned what they have been taught all impose demands on Hawaii's public-school teachers. But they are necessary, and must continue no matter who leads the HSTA.

read ... Focus on Students?

Hawaii works on waiver to preserve state's Prepaid Health Care Act

PBN: One concern is that employers could opt for cheaper federal plans in lieu of the state plans already in place....

“Our computers that we built here in Hawaii had what they call the dual rules environment, where all health care plans offered and supported ACA plans, as well as [Prepaid’s] 7(a) and 7(b) plans,” Hawaii Health Connector Executive Director Jeff Kissel told PBN.

It is uncertain whether or not the federal government will approve the waiver (which has yet to be written), but Gov. David Ige’s office remained confident.

Deputy Chief of Staff Laurel Johnston says that Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services understands that provisions of Hawaii's prepaid law are unique to Hawaii and in some ways exceed coverage demands under the federal law....

read ... Save Prepaid?

TMT issues trespass notices, verbally warns protesters

WHT: ...A leader in the fight to stop the Thirty Meter Telescope from being built atop Mauna Kea was served with a trespass notice Monday by security guards stationed at the construction site.

Kahookahi Kanuha (a preschool teacher at an OHA-funded charter school) said he and several other protesters, some of which are Native Hawaiians who call themselves protectors of the mountain they consider sacred, make routine trips, at least once a week, from their camp outside the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station to the TMT project site near the summit....

The trespass notice from Private Security Group Inc., the company contracted by TMT, is dated at 12:04 p.m. and reads: “You are hereby informed that your presence is no longer desired upon the property known as the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) construction site which has been defined by a marked wire fence with ‘No Trespassing’ signs posted along its perimeter.”

If Kanuha returns to the site within one year, he may be subject to arrest and prosecuted for trespass, according to the notice.

Charles Long, president and CEO of Private Security Group, declined to comment and suggested the newspaper contact TMT.

TMT spokesman Gordon Squires said in a statement that while two trespassing notices were issued Monday, the observatory has been verbally warning trespassers and attempting to serve written notices for quite some time.

“It is often challenging for our security personnel to get to the trespassers to deliver the notices before they withdraw from the site,” he said. “To ensure the health and safety of all visitors to the TMT site, we will continue to issue trespassing notices as appropriate.”

Despite his written warning, Kanuha said he has every intention of returning.

“We don’t cause any harm to anything,” he said. “We simply go there to pray, and then we leave.”

SA: Two men chain themselves to the Queen Liliuokalani statue at the Capitol

read ... Trespass

Lindsey's Taxpayer-Funded Scheme Includes Golf Course, Cemetery on DHHL Land

WHT: An environmental assessment has found no negative impacts from a planned 28-acre complex with a community agricultural park and post-harvest facility, and a 10-acre homestead cemetery. Later phases of the plan will include an equestrian center and golf facility....

The Waimea Nui Regional Community Development Initiative, four decades in the making, is centered on 114 acres of pasture land in southeast Waimea in the Puukapu Homestead Farm Lots subdivision. Last year, the initiative was granted $3.5 million through the state Department of Agriculture....

The 10-acre cemetery will contain a columbarium and a chapel and reception area capable of hosting 250 people.

Background: State-backed Loans: $89M to Companies Tied to OHA Chair Robert Lindsey

read ... Political Connections Pay Off

Maui pCard investigation results in changes, but so far no charges

KHON:  Although several Maui County workers were under investigation for their pCard use, Always Investigating has learned that no one has been charged or prosecuted in connection with any of the allegations, though the administration is continuing to do interviews and retain evidence.

Sources previously revealed a former district supervisor at the Wailuku Public Works Baseyard built out a commercial kitchen at the site that rivals a restaurant, paid for on his pCard with none of it approved by the county.

So will the misspending result in criminal charges? One month later and counting, and Maui police say they’ve still got nothing. In a statement, Lt. William Juan said, “Nothing has been referred to the Maui Police Department regarding this matter.”

Prosecutors had said before that they can’t make a move without MPD.

County councilman Mike Victorino has put pCard spending on a policy committee agenda for next Tuesday.

“During this meeting, this might be a thing to poke the administration and say, okay, give us an update at least,” said Don Couch, the committee’s vice-chair....

The kitchen wasn’t the only case of possible pCard misuse. Always Investigating found out several other employees were also under investigation.

We still can’t get three of those questioned pCard statements either, some of which have to do with automotive spending by the parks department involving repair and maintenance taking place under the bleachers.

Those classified last month as under investigation still hold the county cards, but have had spending limits reduced. The county won’t say by how much.

read ... P-Card

Ethics Director Survives Political Challenge--for now

ILind: Les Kondo is still executive director of the State Ethics Commission after apparently surviving an unusually lengthy and contentious evaluation, and a move by one or more commissioners to fire him.

For now, at least.

That was the word after the five members of the commission emerged from behind closed doors early Wednesday afternoon to announce they had completed their review of Kondo’s job performance, a process that has taken 10 meetings over nine months, additional meetings of a special subcommittee, and more than seven hours of discussion in closed-door executive sessions over the past two weeks.

“The commission has concluded its discussions in private with its executive director,” commission chairman Ed Broglio said. “We will be doing further revaluations in the future.”

With that, the meeting was adjourned.

“Is Les Kondo still the commission’s executive director,” Broglio was then asked.

His reply was simple and direct.

“Yes,” he answered, without any further embellishment.

Despite today’s action, Kondo’s position remains precarious. Broglio’s term on the commission expires at the end of June, and Gov. David Ige has not yet named his replacement. What’s clear is that the commission will soon have one new member and a new chair. What is not at all clear is whether the new commission majority will continue to back their director in the face of external political pressure.

read ... precarious

Climate Adaption Commission Claims Hawaii will Drown in Burning Sea of Acid

SA: Members of the Interagency Climate Adaptation Committee, which has representatives from more than a dozen state and county agencies, is developing the Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Report by the end of 2017. A Kauai legislator, however, said the public should be more concerned with short-term problems rather long-term ones.

“We know (climate change) is going to affect the whole state, but I think the thing we have to worry right now is the actual surf doing more harm than the actual sea rise,” said Rep. Dee Morikawa, D-16 Niihau, Lehua, Koloa, Waimea. “Actually, we have to be more worried about natural disasters.”

Morikawa said she acknowledges climate change and the rise in sea level and is working with officials to construct buildings farther from shore.

“What we’re doing in the legislature is to get planning people to make sure they don’t allow structures close to shore like in the past,” she said. “Other than that, there really is nothing to do right away.”

Senate Pres. Ron Kouchi, D-8, Kauai, Niihau, said members of the committee also include the planning directors of each county to ensure that the unique needs of all four counties are included in the discussion....

Chip Fletcher, scientist with the University of Hawaii’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, and a team of researchers submitted a study in March, which stated that 92 percent and 96 percent of Hawaii’s shorelines will retreat as a result climate change by 2050 and 2100. 

“Rising sea levels, exacerbated by stronger storms, will increase coastal flooding and erosion,” he said during the meeting on Wednesday. “It will damage coastal ecosystems and infrastructure and affect tourism, agriculture, military bases and other industries. This is on top of the impacts of higher sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification.”  (If you believe this I will buy your ocean front Hawaii real estate for 10% of assessed value.  Cash.  So far no takers, so apparently nobody really believes this.)

read ... Burning seas of acid

Greenpeace Director: Anti-GMO Activism Puts Ideology Ahead of the Needs of the Poor

KE: ...I've been critical of the anti-GMO movement not because I believe biotech is the end-all and be-all, but because I'm concerned about the very real ramifications of ideological extremism. Just this week there was another report of a Greenpeace defector — Stephen Tindale, who led the group at the height of its opposition to biotechnology. The Independent reported him as saying:

Environmental groups that campaign against genetically modified food are taking a “morally unacceptable” position that puts “ideology” ahead of the needs of the poor. [Tindale] said he had “decided to speak out” because he believed the technology was safe and could help alleviate hunger in the developing world.

“I worry for Greenpeace and the other green groups because they could, by taking such a hard line … be seen to be putting ideology before the need for humanitarian action.”

His remarks were included in the BBC program “Panorama,” which “also uncovered further evidence that some public campaigns being waged by Western NGOs against GM in the Third World are using 'scare tactics' to mobilise opposition to the technology,” according to The Independent, which first broke news of such tactics in Uganda earlier this year.

We certainly saw that same scenario play out in Hawaii, with Center for Food Safety assuming the role that Greenpeace, which claims it's not an ideological organization, has played elsewhere in the world. Sadly, CFS continues to get far too much unquestioning coverage from Hawaii media, whose scrutiny of the GMO debate has been superficial at best....

read ... Musings: On Muckraking

Civil Beat: Feds Should Use the Monk Seal as an Excuse to Take over Hawaii Waters 

CB: "NOAA needs to act now to classify most of Hawaii’s coastal areas as essential habitat for the endangered monk seal or risk losing an iconic species."

read ... Use the Monk Seal as an Excuse

State to conduct aerial hunting on Mauna Kea

HTH: Animal control activities will include trapping, staff hunting, and shooting from helicopters, DLNR said.

The hunts will occur June 24-25, July 28-29 and Aug. 26-27.

Public access will be allowed on those dates by salvage permit only to the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve from Waikahalulu gulch, north to Kemole, and east to Pu‘u Kole; the Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve; Kaohe Game Management Area; and Mauna Kea Hunter Access Road.

An agency spokeswoman said aerial hunting is required to comply with a federal court order mandating removal of sheep and goats from palila habitat.

read ... Eradication

China deploys surveillance ships to Hawaii

SA: China has begun sending maritime surveillance vessels to Hawaii waters as a "countermeasure" to U.S. military involvement in the South China Sea, a pro-China newspaper published in Taiwan reported.

If that's the case, none has arrived, according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The Want China Times reported May 30 that the Chinese army navy was taking the step amid tensions between the U.S. Navy and China over the disputed waters of the Spratly Islands.

read ... Ships

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