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Tuesday, July 7, 2015
July 7, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:48 PM :: 3951 Views

Fiscal Condition? Hawaii Ranks 40th

Video: Hawaiians in the US Civil War

Hawaii became a U.S. Territory July 7, 1898

July 7, 1935: Moscow orders first Communists to Hawaii

OHA, UH Hawaiian Law Center to Brainwash Commissioners Statewide

City leaders choose silence over ethical governance

Borreca: This will not be the summer of ethics in Hawaii. The tradewinds die, and apparently also waning is an interest in beefing up local government ethics agencies.

The number of city and state scofflaws violating local ethics laws is not the issue; the concern is who is watching the watchers.

This year both the Honolulu County Ethics Commission and the state Ethics Commission started poking at their respective executive directors, Chuck Totto at the city and Les Kondo on the state level.

Kondo has been a "call them as I see them" sort of executive director and something of an irritant to the state Legislature since taking the job.

Kondo took over in 2011 and set an immediate new tone by telling lawmakers that they couldn't take free tickets to expensive charity fundraisers. Recently he told state workers no way can they take free golf outings, especially from companies or individuals who have business with the state....

The state Ethics Commission kept Kondo on the job, but downgraded his performance rating from an "outstanding" in 2012 to "average" this year.

If the commission was slow to support, the lack of praise by Hawaii's major leaders was disturbing. Only one Republican, state Rep. Gene Ward, said anything in support of Kondo and that was after the hearing was over. Neither Gov. David Ige was heard nor was any other member of the Legislature saying, "Good government means good ethics and good enforcement."

Over at the city, the complaint from the county commission was just hearing director Totto at all.

Essentially the guidance given by both that commission and city officials to Totto was, "put a cork in it."

In May, the commission formally drafted a media policy restricting Totto's ability to "explain, clarify or give context to advisory opinions … without permission from the commission."....

read ... Choose Silence

Will Honolulu Council Approve Caldwell's Rail Tax Extension?

CB: ...this saga is not over. Though Ige is now set to follow the Legislature’s lead in approving the tax, the Honolulu City Council must also sign on for the measure to be implemented.

Recent signals from Council Chair Ernie Martin and his colleagues strongly suggest this will be no slam dunk. In May, Martin said the Council will engage in a process “just as difficult, if not more difficult” than what the mayor encountered at the Legislature.

With the property tax explanations of the past week, we’ll put our money on “more difficult.”

And that’s exactly as it should be. The City Council, often criticized for not having enough “skin in the game” on its own rail project now stands as the last line of defense for the public’s wallet....

read ... Rail Tax

Enviros Launch Push to Tighten Bag Ban

SA: A week into Oahu's plastic bag ban, some folks are wondering why so many plastic bags are still being given out at island grocery checkout stands.

Anna Sabino was so alarmed she started a petition at Change.org, demanding that city officials get tough on retailers for breaking the law. Some of the stores, she pointed out, have introduced a thicker plastic bag — and are describing them as reusable — while others are giving out compostable plastic bags.

"Please do not let any store replace plastic bags handed at checkouts by other kinds of plastic bags," the Hono­lulu woman wrote on the petition signed by more than 150 people as of Monday.

While the reality is those kinds of plastic bags are indeed legal, having been added to the ordinance by the Hono­lulu City Council as a compromise to an outright ban on plastic, environmental groups contend the companies that are using the bags are violating the spirit of the law.

"They are taking advantage of a loophole," said Stuart Coleman, Hawaii coordinator with the Surfrider Foundation, which helped lobby for the ordinance.

read ... Eco Hype

Morita: It’s Time to End Net Energy Metering in Hawaii

GTM: “Bring the NEM program to a close and transition to a more fair and equitable rate structure.” -- Mina Morita, Marco Mangelsdorf

SA: Solar permit approvals on Oahu rose again last month

read ... No More NEM

BLNR to Vote on Limiting access to Mauna Kea

HNN: The Board of Land and Natural Resources confirms an emergency ruling is scheduled for Friday to adopt new restrictions regulating use within a one-mile area of the Mauna Kea access road.

A draft of the new rules under consideration "To Protect Against Imminent Peril To Public Safety and Natural Resources", according to the state, includes restricting access between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. and prohibiting backpacks, tents or blankets.

The land board will meet July 10, 2015 at 9 a.m. at the Kalanimoku Building (1151 Punchbowl Street) in the Land Board Conference Room 132....

Cultural practitioners have been allowed access with a ranger escort for several days, but as of Friday, the Office of Mauna Kea Management began limiting that to about ten people once a day at 1 p.m. so long as personnel is available...

"The legislature notes that the University must accommodate Hawaiian rights contained in Article 12, Section 7 of the Constitution. What we have here is a flagrant, flagrant and ongoing violations of Hawaiian cultural rights that are constitutionally protected and considered international human rights that are continuously being ignored by the state," said Miliani Trask....

Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Rowena Akana says some kind of compromise needs to be reached immediately.

"It is a right that they should be afforded, no question about that. There is law and precedent that allows for this. The key is going to be working out a fair and dignified plan so that people are not groveling," said Akana....

read ... Limited

UH Hilo Takes Opportunity to Decommission Failed Telescope Project

HTH: Under pressure to reduce astronomy’s footprint on Mauna Kea, the University of Hawaii at Hilo plans to remove its Hoku Kea teaching telescope after wasting nearly $800,000 in federal grants on the project.

The 36-inch telescope was installed in 2010 but never became operational because of numerous defects, including a warped primary mirror, a leaking roof and a faulty control system.

With repairs deemed too expensive, UH planned to spend $450,000 in state funds on a replacement, but the project officially will be scrapped as the university system seeks to meet Gov. David Ige’s request to remove three telescopes on the mountain by the time the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope is built.

The decommissioning process for the broken telescope and its 30-foot-diameter dome — the smallest on Mauna Kea — is expected to begin by 2016 and be complete following the removal of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory in 2018, UH-Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney told the Tribune-Herald on Monday.

“It’s the only telescope that UH-Hilo manages, and it’s not currently operational,” he said, when explaining the decision.

“Rather than looking to decommission telescopes that are operational and generating a lot of good science, we needed to decommission one that wasn’t operational.”

The move will nonetheless be a major setback for UH-Hilo’s undergraduate astronomy program, which has operated for years without its own working telescope to train students.

“It is hurting us,” said Marianne Takamiya, astronomy department chairperson.

“It is hurting UH-Hilo, it is hurting Hilo, it is hurting, I think, the young people in Hilo the most.”

As a result of the decision, Straney said the university system pledged to provide UH-Hilo students viewing time on the 2.2-meter telescope managed by UH-Manoa’s Institute for Astronomy. Other telescopes will be asked to offer time as well.

UH-Hilo purchased the Hoku Kea telescope with a $650,000 National Science Foundation grant to replace an older 24-inch telescope at that site. NSF provided a separate $141,664 grant to pay for one of the telescope’s instruments....

With Hoku Kea and CSO designated for decommissioning, the university still needs to remove one more telescope to meet Ige’s request.

UH: News Release

read ... UH-Hilo seizes opportunity to decommission failed telescope project

Anti-GMO Campaign did not survive confrontation with reality

MN: ...During the County Council's hearings, experts from the EPA, USDA's Biotechnology Regulatory Services, Hawaii Department of Health and Hawaii Department of Agriculture affirmed the safety and ongoing regulation of GE crops and pesticides in Maui County.

Any reasoned skepticism opposing this consensus of safety and regulation must also be based on evidence to have an informed discussion; instead, moratorium proponents offered precautionary principle-induced hallucinations about wide-ranging threats. Their campaign was social theater complete with drama, villains and costumes. It did not survive its confrontation with reality in federal court.

We can progress as a society by understanding more, not by becoming more afraid....

read ... about reality

Star-Adv: Hiatus can help charter schools

SA: ...the commission should accept the proposal and seek to rebalance its staff workload so that the new and continuing charter schools get sufficient oversight.

Setting the right pace for application reviews is essential to avoid more school failures of the kind exemplified most recently by Halau Lokahi Public Charter School. The state revoked the Hawaiian-focus school's charter after persistent problems with debt. A commission review found roughly $100,000 in questionable expenditures, and a lot of this red ink is sure to fall on the taxpayers.

It wasn't the only charter school to fall short. The Myron B. Thompson Academy, which operates largely online, in 2010 was hit with accusations of nepotism. Such cases serve to remind the public that the charter schools have a measure of autonomy in the way they deliver their curriculum, but they use public funds and so are accountable for using that money responsibly.

Such problems finally yielded legislative action in 2012, when an overhaul of the state's charter law and stricter oversight rules emerged from the state Capitol. That act created the commission, which ultimately is running a tighter ship and showed its resolve by making the painful decision to revoke a school's charter.

read ... Hiatus

Hawaii DoE Disciplines Zero Teachers for Sexual Misconduct--But Some in Prison

CN: The Associated Press study found that 2,500 public school teachers were punished for sexual misconduct in the 5 years from 2001-05. The AP did not report how many had been passed along from district to district. Nor could it report on sexual misconduct in private schools, which generally handle such cases in house.

One state, Maine, prohibited schools from releasing information on sexually abusive teachers, according to the 2005 AP study. The AP reported that no teachers in Hawaii had been disciplined for sexual misconduct in those 5 years, though some were in prison for it.

One extreme case, John Boone, was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for molesting more than 90 children on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. Boone too had been passed along from another district. The United States agreed to pay $13 million to settle claims in that case, though it cleared the superintendent of the school district that employed Boone before he went to the Hopis.

One teacher told Courthouse News that he faced a difficult choice when he suspected that a fellow high school teacher was having sex with a student.

He sought legal advice.

He said he was told, "To ruin someone's career can be actionable. To fail to ruin someone's career is less actionable."

read ... Serial Molester Teacher

HPD wrong on mandatory retirement for police officers

ILind: Senator Will Espero reacted to the officer’s age, as Civil Beat reported (“How Old Is Too Old for a Cop?“).

According to Civil Beat:

Assistant Police Chief Dave Kajihiro responded to Espero’s email Thursday, saying that the Americans With Disability Act prevented the department from implementing a mandatory retirement age for officers.

So are we stuck with aging law enforcement officers at all levels due to the federal law?

The quick answer is a simple “no”.

HPD’s claim that it’s stymied by the legal requirements of the Americans With Disability Act apparently isn’t true.

Here’s an excerpt from a publication of the International Association of Firefighters.

The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) permanently exempts fire fighters, emergency medical personnel, and police officers from the federal ban on age limits and employment.

The new law authorizes state and local governments to establish mandatory retirement ages of at least 55, as well as maximum hiring ages. It is also retroactive to January 1, 1994, to cover municipalities whose age limits became illegal when the ADEA took affect for public safety personnel.

ILind: Aging Police Officer Raises Questions About Reserve Program

read ... Busted

Election Commission Considers 'Salary Adjustment' for Nago

MN: The state Elections Commission will be meeting on Oahu at 10 a.m. Thursday with videoconferencing on Maui.

The commission will discuss procedures for its search for a new commission chairman and consider a potential salary adjustment for Chief Election Officer Scott Nago....

The full meeting agenda is available at www.elections.hawaii.gov/election-resources/elections-commission.

read ... Salary Adjustment

Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Veteran Affairs in Hawaii

KITV: The U.S. Secretary of Labor and the U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs are in Hawaii to find out what issues our local veterans are facing – this time it’s jobs.

read ... Gov. officials making sure local veterans get help

Prison administrator accused of improper inmate contact quits

HNN: An administrator at Kulani Correctional Facility on The Big Island quit last week after being accused of having improper contact with male inmates, sources told Hawaii News Now.

Gordlynn Surigao worked as a corrections supervisor for the last year and three months at Kulani prison, overseeing the offender services office and four social workers.  She was in charge of all prisoners’ programming there, from education to substance abuse programs.

Surigao was also what’s called the prison rape elimination act instructor at the facility, meaning she trained people to reduce sexual assaults there.

Sources said she resigned June 30 and was under investigation for having improperly close relationships with male prisoners.

A complaint filed against Surigao by another supervisor in April said she should be removed from Kulani, because she spent hours alone with one male inmate in her office....

In the Kulani case, Surigao is accused of delaying the transfer to another prison of one inmate with whom she had a close relationship, and sources said prison officials found a love letter during a routine strip search she allegedly wrote to the man.

"… it has been requested that I fly you three out tomorrow morning, however you know I'm still doing whatever I can to change that …"  Surigao is alleged to have written in the note. "… I made sure that the paperwork is not ready."

The complaint also alleged she might have been giving the inmate confidential write ups and investigations about himself that prisoners should not see.

Sources said Surigao was notified of the investigation on June 10 and packed up her belongings and quit on June 30.

read ... Kulani Prison for Sex Offenders

A stark listing of Hawaii organized crime killings in the 1960s and 1970s

ILind: ...This was a period during which Hawaii was experiencing explosive growth, which in turn offered rich rewards for those who controlled the traditional forms of vice–prostitution, gambling, and drugs. Competing gangs, often neighborhood based and headed by a charismatic leader, fought for their share of the action and battled against incursions by mainland crime families.

It’s pretty grim reading. It includes name of the victim(s), date and place of death, and disposition of the body. Many were dumped along public roads, some left where they fell, others buried on remote beaches.....

PDF: Click here to see the full list.

read ... A stark listing of Hawaii organized crime killings in the 1960s and 1970s

BIA Cancels 'Parade of Homes' due to Lack of New Homes

PBN: The Building Industry Association of Hawaii will not hold its annual Parade of Homes showcase for the second time its 60-year history, executives from the nonprofit trade organization confirmed to PBN on Monday.

"It's a very popular and outstanding event, but the amount of homes that are available for entry isn't very high," BIA Hawaii CEO Gladys Quinto Marrone told PBN.

She said the organization's Parade of Homes committee decided to not open up the submission process for showcase entries and are now determining whether the trademark event should become a biennial one.

read ... Housing Shortage

Brower Stunt Pushes HCDA to Weigh in on Kakaako Homeless Encampment

CB: John Whalen, board chairman of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, says in its regular meeting Wednesday the agency for the first time in its history will discuss how it can get directly involved with the city and state to better manage the problem.

Whalen says HCDA had considered Kakaako’s growing homeless encampment the purview of the state’s social service agencies and the city....only after the attack on state Rep. Tom Brower by two homeless teenagers has there been broad public concern and a demand for action.

read ... Money

TPP to Meet on Maui

NYT: United States officials feel confident enough a deal is at hand that they have scheduled a meeting among the chief negotiators at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa in Hawaii during the last four days in July and have notified Congress that they expect this to be the last one. Still, it will be some time before a deal is ratified. Under terms set by Congress in trade negotiating legislation last month, a July 31 agreement could not be signed until Oct. 31 or more likely the beginning of November. Congress cannot begin considering it until December.

Yet the Office of the United States Trade Representative is projecting confidence.

“It’s not just U.S., but a number of other countries are reasonably confident negotiations can be concluded at this ministerial,” said Daniel Price, a senior international economic adviser in George W. Bush’s White House, referring to the Hawaii talks.

read ... Pacific Trade Deal Negotiators See a Wrap in Late July

UH researchers eye doubling number of Hualalai geothermal survey sites

HTH: After obtaining permits in March to begin exploring for geothermal energy under the dormant Hualalai volcano, researchers with the University of Hawaii are looking to more than double the number of survey sites included in the project.

Donald Thomas, director of The Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at UH-Hilo, said part of the rationale behind the request is to avoid costly environmental assessments.

Thomas said the state Department of Land and Natural Resources informed project researchers that some of the original nine parcels required the study. He said a decision was made to abandon certain sites and add others that would not require environmental assessments.

“We were provided a fixed amount of money to do the surveys,” Thomas said. “And we were not at all in a position to do an environmental assessment.”

The request would increase the number of locations permitted for non-invasive geophysical study along the Hualalai Rift Zone, just north of Kailua-Kona, from nine to 19.

The state Land Board is scheduled to consider the matter during its meeting Friday.

read ... Double

Council Harasses Pigeon Fanciers

SA: A bill that requires Oahu residents with 10 or more birds on a residential property to get a permit has some bird enthusiasts crying foul.

City Council Bill 51, which gets its first airing Wednesday, says anyone with 10 or more nonpoultry birds will have to obtain a bird facility permit from the city Department of Planning and Permitting. Applicants for permits would have to show evidence that all property owners within 200 feet have been notified and that at least two-thirds of those notified consent to the granting of a permit.

The city would have permission to enter a property to inspect it to ensure, among other things, that it is clean, does not generate noise or odors that would bother neighbors and maintains a healthy environment for the birds.

Councilwoman Carol Fuku­naga said she introduced the bill....

read ... Stop Harassing the People

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