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Saturday, July 4, 2015
July 4, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:04 PM :: 3238 Views

The 1840 Hawaiian Constitution and the Fourth of July

The Verified Complaint In Equity: The Declaration Of Independence

Hawaii Family Forum: Pandora's box has been opened

Rankings aside, we’re our own worst enemy

PBN: Asked about his reaction to the rankings, Peter Ho made a good point. The chairman, president and CEO of Bank of Hawaii cautions that nationwide surveys need to be digested “with a grain of salt.” He finds it difficult to reconcile the 42nd ranking for economy with our 4.1 percent unemployment rate, booming construction and a visitor industry that is the envy of the world.

“Statistically, it’s difficult to come to the same conclusion,” he told PBN during a recent visit.

At the same time, he said, the rankings should make us think about how we can do better as a community.

Vance Roley thinks the rankings pose a problem regardless of their methodologies. The dean of the University of Hawaii Manoa Shidler College of Business suggested during a visit with PBN this week that the string of low rankings creates a perception problem that keeps potential investors away from the Islands. He says it also reinforces the need to diversify the economy.

Carl Bonham has a similar take. The executive director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization tells PBN reporter Jason Ubay on Page 4 today that while outside studies and rankings are open to interpretation and criticism, they remind us that we have a lot of work to do.

For example, why is our infrastructure ranked next to last? As Ubay’s story notes, why does it cost so much to maintain interstate highways in a state where temperatures rarely drop below 60 degrees and pavements don’t freeze?

Why is our work force ranked 46th? Is it connected to our 45th-ranked education system? Is the word out that employers and labor unions are training employees in basic skills that they should have learned in school?

Our geographic location and the fact that we live on islands suggest that we will never be competitive with landlocked states in terms of cost of living. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t improve our tax and permitting systems to make it easier to start a business. It doesn’t mean that we can’t attract higher-paying jobs by, as Roley says, diversifying our economy. A second story on Page 4 today shows that the technology sector is doing just that, but has the potential to move much faster.

Our elected officials deserve blame by not adapting public policy to the changing needs of the business community. They deserve blame when they provide anecdotal evidence to support the poor perceptions that the rankings generate.

Look no further than Mauna Kea, where a few hundred protesters were allowed to shut down construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, a huge economic driver for the Big Island and a scientific endeavor with the potential to unite countries from throughout the planet on a common mission — to explore the far reaches of space. This, despite the fact that the TMT Corp. did everything right in getting the proper permits and creating programs that give back to the local community.

Or, look at Hawaii Superferry, whose owners were told that they had done everything right, only to be sunk by a small group of protesters and eventually by the state Supreme Court.

The list goes on — and it needs to end.

Believe what you wish about the many studies and rankings that label Hawaii as “worst.” They’re sending us a message, and our failure to respond to it with constructive ideas makes us our own worst enemy.

read ... Own Worst Enemy

Ige Signs 7% Tax Hike on Natural gas--Enviros Demand Even More Taxes

SA: Gov. David Ige this week quietly approved Senate Bill 359, a new energy tax on imported fossil fuels such as propane and liquefied natural gas along with a special tax break for (which does not cover) coal that was sought by the state's largest coal consumer (which means that electric rates will not be jacked up enough by this tax to satisfy the solar and wind scammers, but they will try for more next year).

The tax exemption for coal was requested by AES Hawaii Inc., which stands to benefit from the tax break for up to seven years (thus keeping our electric rates down).

AES produces about 20 percent of Oahu's power at any given time by burning about 700,000 tons of coal per year at its plant in Campbell Industrial Park.

Jeff Walsh, former president and general manager of AES, has said the company needs the tax exemption because it sells power to Hawaiian Electric Co. by contract at a fixed price, so it has no way to pass the cost of any new tax on to HECO or the utility's customers....

The barrel tax was first imposed in 1993, and is now set at $1.05 per barrel on all oil imported into the state. The proceeds are distributed among state environmental protection and cleanup programs as well as state programs to promote clean energy, reduce the use of fossil fuels and promote local agriculture.

Lawmakers this year originally proposed measures to expand the reach of that tax by imposing an additional levy on synthetic gas, liquefied natural gas, propane and coal.

House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee Chairman Chris Lee said lawmakers intended to amend the barrel tax to close a "loophole" that allowed fossil fuels such as propane and coal to avoid the barrel tax that was being paid by oil importers.

In particular, lawmakers said they wanted to levy the tax on liquefied natural gas, or LNG, because HECO is tentatively planning to use LNG on a large scale to produce power in Hawaii.  (And that would make wind energy even more unrealistic than it currently is.)

The original tax changes floated by House lawmakers would have applied the tax to propane, LNG and coal fuels according to their capacity to generate energy as measured in British thermal units, or BTUs, with the new tax set at 19 cents per million BTUs of fossil fuel.

(With the price of gas at $2.77 per million btu, $0.19 is a 7% tax on natural gas.)

read ... Tax Hike

Ethics panel's 'suffocating' media policy is rare among isle agencies

SA: The new written media policy adopted by the Hono­lulu Ethics Commission, which effectively silences the staff and board, is a rarity among state agencies and some mainland counterparts, an informal survey shows.

And critics here say it flies in the face of good governance.

Carmille Lim, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, said the new policy appears politically motivated and in line with the desires of the Caldwell administration.

"I think the administration and the Ethics Commission are prioritizing public relations and public image over public service," Lim said, adding that the commission should rethink its decision at its next meeting.

"The agencies that I know who have media policies empower the executive director and staff to communicate on behalf of the group," Lim said. "So I think it's very odd for the Caldwell administration to be suffocating a staff from doing what is a public service: to help educate the media and citizens as a whole." ....

read ... Rare

House leaders to talk to Brower about his conduct

SA: Brower maintains he did not provoke the attack. Families of the two boys who allegedly assaulted Brower said the legislator egged on the boys with taunts and laughter.

"I take his word for it," Saiki said. "He's like everyone else. He's just very frustrated with the situation and the seeming inability to fix it."

Brower made national news two years ago when he used a sledgehammer to bash shopping carts used by the homeless.

State Sen. Brickwood Galuteria (D, Kakaako-McCully-Wai­kiki) said he would "not accept any type of assault on an elected official or anybody in our community."

Kathryn Xian, head of the nonprofit Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, said she is looking into filing an ethics complaint against Brower, saying he provoked the reaction by his taunts, which she called inappropriate conduct. The homeless are sensitive, particularly the youth, to having photos of themselves and their makeshift homes displayed on social media and the news because they are teased at school and embarrassed when others discover their plight, Xian said....

A city spokesman has said that early in Mayor Kirk Caldwell's administration, the city didn't enforce stored property and sidewalk nuisance laws in Kakaako because of (insert excuse here)....

read ... Brower Again

Hawaii Cited as Example of Locally Controlled TOD

CJ: With a few exceptions—including New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Maryland—most transit authorities exist at the local or regional level, reflecting the view that land and transit development is generally best handled by local decision-makers. In its report on TOD, for example, Hawaii emphasized the role of local groups in working to develop state-owned land around transit stops. By contrast, in Connecticut’s amended TCDA bill, all local authorities would have the power to do is designate a transit stop for development. The TCDA board members would then have all decision-making power on how that property is planned and developed....

read ... Development

Drug testing: Positive results among workers stay flat at 4.6%

PBN: Workplace drug testing results were the same as a year earlier for methamphetamine at 0.9 percent; cocaine at 0.4 percent; marijuana at 2.2 percent; and opiates at 0.2 percent.

“It is remarkably consistent,“ said Carl Linden, scientific director of toxicology at Diagnostic Laboratory. “This is the first time that we have seen this consistency.”

However, the number of people testing positive for synthetic urine doubled in the second quarter from the year-earlier period to 0.9 percent....

Diagnostic Laboratory’s workforce quarterly sample size includes between 7,000 and 10,000 drug tests.

(Added up = 4.6%)

read ... Drugs

State DoT Burns $300K to Pick Up Trash from Homeless Camp on H-1

HNN: Cruising along the H-1 Freeway through town, they aren’t immediately visible to passing motorists. (+)

On the mauka side of the highway, located near the pedestrian bridge between the Vineyard and Queen Emma overpasses, are three separate concrete terraces, and stairways from Magellan Street lead down to each one.

All three have become homeless camps....the State Department of Transportation has a scheduled clean-up event in August....

The homeless are notified before each event, which happen twice a year.  Each one takes one to two weeks to complete, costing between $250,000 and $300,000.  They take a massive staff to perform, utilizing approximately 40 maintenance workers, who would otherwise be doing road repairs or other normal duties.  20 inmates from OCCC are also involved, as well as State Sheriffs and HPD Officers....

read ... State ill-equipped to deal with homeless above H-1 Freeway

Kauai Humane Society Puppy Killers Fire Two to Coverup Death Rates

HNN: Two managers at the Kauai Humane Society who spoke out about problems there, including inaccurate euthanasia rates that were more than 20 percent higher than reported publicly, have been fired by the organization.

The two employees complained to Hawaii News Now May 26 that the shelter was under reporting its animal euthanasia rates and that some animals were not being properly cared for and unqualified employees were being hired.  They later made the same complaints to two newspapers that also reported the story.

"We gave a lot of time to the Kauai Humane Society and all of a sudden, we're out of a job now for doing the right thing," said Mana Brown, the shelter’s field services manager an employee for more than five years who was terminated June 22 by Penny Cistaro, the executive director of the shelter whose alleged mismanagement he and a group of employees had criticized.

Brandy Varvel, who was the outreach manager at the society and also was quoted by HNN and other news outlets, lost her job on June 22 as well.

"Twelve employees signed a petition supporting Penny's removal.  However Mana and I were the only ones quoted in the media and it appears our firing is a warning to anyone else who'd like to continue to speak out," Varvel said.

read ... Puppy Killers

Declining abortion rates are welcome, but it doesn't mirror 'state of moral values'

DN: The state with the largest decline in abortions is Hawaii, which has seen a 30 percent reduction in the state’s abortion rate in the past five years. Hawaii has virtually no restrictions on abortion whatsoever. Abortion rights advocates are therefore quick to correlate the decrease in abortions to an increase in sex education and access to contraception. Other abortion-friendly states with similar statistics attribute their declines to similar causes.

All of this comes in the wake of a Gallup poll conducted last month that found that 72 percent of Americans believe that “the state of moral values” in this country is “getting worse,” with only 22 percent saying that moral values are getting better. If, indeed, the nation is experiencing a resurgence of respect for life in the womb, it’s a phenomenon that’s going largely unnoticed by the public at large.

In addition, most polls show the nation remains deeply divided on abortion as a moral question, which means that Hawaii’s 30 percent reduction in abortions has not produced a commensurate 30 percent shift in moral attitudes....

read ... Abortion

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