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Saturday, August 8, 2015
August 8, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:49 PM :: 4023 Views

The Future of Hawaii Can’t Rest in a Protest

CDC: Hawaii #1 for Drunk Driving

New Catastrophic Hurricane Plan Signed By State, Federal Partners

Honolulu Auditor Praises Himself for Undoing PKF Contract Months Before Embezzlement Case Became Public

Hurricane Hilda Now Category 4--Winds 140mph

Two John Carroll Cases Thrown out of Court in One Week

IM: Attorney John Carroll, representing Ed Wagner and others, filed a lawsuit in September 2013 charging that the 2008 Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative and the Public Utilities Commission’s decoupling decisions were in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine, as set forth in Article 11, Section 1 of the Hawaii Constitution....  (Just because you want something to be true does not mean you have a case.)

...Judge Sakamoto reminded Carroll that since he had brought the suit, he had the burden of proof to lay out the case as part of his filing.  (Hint: Most lawyers don't need to be reminded of this.)

The Public Utilities Commission, Hawaiian Electric and other State Agencies were each represented by a lawyer. They noted that Carroll’s suggesting that the Judge review the decoupling case was an untimely new motion.  (John Carroll?  Untimely?  What a surprise.)

Furthermore, they noted that Judge Sakamoto had not ordered or remanded the case to the Commission but suggested that as an option. Carroll then brought the action to the Commission. State law specifies that all Commission appeals must go to the Intermediate Court of Appeals or the Hawai`i Supreme Court. Therefore Judge Sakamoto lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal.  (John Carroll?  In the wrong court?  What a surprise.)

Carroll acknowledged on more than one occasion that he had made procedural errors but pleaded with the court to allow them their day in court.  (John Carroll?  Procedural errors?  What a surprise.)

Judge Sakamoto dismissed the case just 12 minutes after it started....  (John Carroll?  Dismissed AGAIN?  Twice in a week?  What a surprise.)

Carroll asserted that other parts of his original suit are still moving through the court system.  (He always says that.  Who is fooled?)

read ... About yet another surprising John Carroll Case

Lawyers Scored $26.8M on Aloha Airlines Bankruptcy

SA: ...Aloha Airlines’ bankruptcy, which generated the largest asset liquidation in state history, is finally over.

The long-running case closed two weeks ago after taking more than seven years, or 2,682 days to be exact. It overlapped the terms of three Hawaii governors and produced creditors’ claims totaling $337.7 million.

But of that staggering total, only $57.3 million of the claims were paid, and unsecured creditors received nothing.

Creditors holding secured or priority claims received $30.5 million of that disbursement, according to the 340page final account and distribution report recently filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The remaining $26.8 million was used for administrative expenses to pay the attorneys and the trustee overseeing the case; the operating costs that kept Aloha’s cargo and contract services operations alive while buyers were being sought; and the cost of liquidating the airplane parts.

Why did the case drag on for that many years?

“The majority of the time was taken to wind down the pension plans,” bankruptcy trustee Dane Field said last week. “When I first took on the case, I was working 12, 13 hours a day (x how much per hour? do the math) for three months, including the weekend. That’s how complex it was. It’s the biggest Chapter 7 bankruptcy ever filed in the state.” ...

read ... Its good to be a lawyer

Council Ethics Blockade: Rail Becomes Unconscionable Political and Legal Morass

Star-Adv: An unusual disagreement between the city’s top attorney and members of the city Ethics Commission and its staff raises questions about how seriously the city’s top officials believe in ethical government.

Evidence that certain City Council members violated the law by failing to disclose their conflicts of interest before voting favorably on major development projects, including the $6 billion rail project, raises an obvious question: Should their votes be declared null and void, and should the Council revisit its decisions and revote on them? ...

Furthermore, there’s a good argument to be made that upending the Council’s decisions going back years would create a political and legal morass that would be detrimental to the public interest.

Even so, the Ethics Commission properly raised the question about the validity of the votes, and the Council is obligated to address it....

Cachola and Garcia, and possibly other Council members, violated the public trust by not properly disclosing their conflicts. It’s bad enough that public officials who control the public purse willingly accept gifts from those who lobby them for political favors. Hiding those transactions is worse. And attempting to marginalize the commission by discounting its advisory opinions is unconscionable....

read ... Council must tackle ethics conundrum

Mauna Kea visitor station quietly reopens

WHT: After being closed for more than a month, the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station reopened its doors Friday alongside Thirty Meter Telescope opponents who continue to camp across the road despite recent arrests....

On Thursday, DLNR Director Suzanne Case spoke with protesters briefly while visiting the area and picking up trash, the department confirmed. She was joined by First Deputy Kekoa Kaluhiwa.

“This was simply a spontaneous goodwill gesture while they were on the Big Island and had a bit of time,” said DLNR spokesman Dan Dennison.

Trask said they appreciated the visit and offered them coffee.

“I think their takeaway was we’re not planning to leave,” he said.

“We’re not going anywhere. We’re staying put, and we’re seeing this thing through because our mountain requires it.”

Dennison said no additional enforcement actions have been conducted.

Protesters have stopped workers attempting to clear the construction site at 13,150 feet above sea level three times.

TMT’s grubbing and grading permit was set to expire Aug. 30, but Hawaii County recently agreed to extend it for a year.

read ... Quietly

Hawaiian Electric, NextEra Plan $235M LNG project without Bulk Terminal

PBN: Hawaiian Electric is working on its own LNG project, and recently told the PUC that the prospects of LNG being delivered to a bulk terminal in the Islands instead of the other option — a containerized LNG solution — is uncertain at this time.

The utility said that developing a bulk terminal project became a lot tougher in light of the recent passage of a couple of bills related to energy. The bills include one that sets the goal of Hawaii achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 and another that sets limits on the use of LNG.

Hawaiian Electric also noted that it anticipates developing, permitting and implementing a bulk LNG import and regasification terminal for the state will take considerably longer than the alternative containerized LNG solution.

Because of this, the Honolulu-based utility believes that the distribution of LNG in containers in volumes sufficient for power generation “has the potential to provide more immediate reduction to customer bills while helping to minimize the investment in dedicated LNG assets.”

read ... Consultant

HECO tries to oust solar industry lobby from proceeding on future of net metering

ILind: ...In early July, HECO filed a motion to eject The Alliance for Solar Choice, an industry group made up of large solar companies, from the proceedings.

TASC was earlier approved as one of a dozen intervenors in the proceedings, along with the principal parties, the utilities and the Consumer Advocate.

HECO basically accuses the solar lobby of agreeing to work collaboratively towards an agreed upon framework going forward, but instead took its case to the public through an advertising and public relations campaign aimed at improperly pressuring the commission in its decision on the issue.

The HECO motion fills 26 pages, and has lots of details.

When I interviewed former PUC chair Mina Morita last week, she echoed the displeasure at TASC’s actions (see “Ian Lind: Former PUC Chair Speaks Out Against Solar Subsidies“).

Morita accuses the solar advocates of politicizing energy policy at a very delicate time in which rapid technological change, coupled with dramatic changes in energy pricing, have ratcheted up the risks for Hawaii’s utilities and the public in making decisions that will reverberate for decades.

“These kinds of decisions cannot be political decisions,” Morita said, “because this is a central service that the whole economy depends on, and we can’t afford major failure of this important infrastructure.”

“We’re in a precarious situation here,” she said. “I hate the cliches, but failure is not an option.”

I recommend the column, since Morita is one of those key figures, long an environmental favorite, a key advocate on energy issues, including prior support of net metering, and now going public after 4 years as head of the PUC.

When you’re done with that, you can check TASC’s response, filed by the group’s Oakland-based attorney....

Background: It's time to end net energy metering

read ... HECO tries to oust solar industry lobby

Touring the Kauai Seed Fields

KE: it's a favorite tactic of anti-GMO activists to don some sort of mask to underscore their belief that the air isn't fit to breathe. (Btw, I have no idea where how they came up with "196,000 pounds," or the concept of "GMO chemicals," but such hyperbole is in part what prompted me to visit the seed fields.)...

It always seemed that it would be relatively easy to determine if pesticides were migrating off-site: Simply test the water, the air, the soil, dust in people's homes. County water officials regularly test drinking water sources, and have found no unsafe levels of pesticides — results borne out by federal and state atrazine studies that found "no exceedances of health-based or ecological regulatory standards” for atrazine.

The limited state studies done so far detected only negligible amounts of pesticides in agricultural areas on Kauai, though additional surface water testing was recommended, especially during storms. Ironically, urban Oahu had higher pesticide levels than any rural area in the state.

I know the anti-GMO Hawaii SEED failed to detect airborne pesticides during its own drift monitoring tests, and I haven't seen any water samples from Surfrider that show pesticide contamination. Nor do I recall attorneys presenting any evidence of pesticide contaminated dust in their lawsuit against Pioneer. And though an article by Paul Towers of the Pesticide Action Network claimed “Biotech Giant Found Guilty of Pesticide Contamination,” the verdict against Pioneer dealt strictly with the nuisance effects of dust, and not pesticides at all....

read ... Touring the Kauai Seed Fields: Part II

Homegrown solution to teacher shortage

HNN: "We decided, you know what, we got smart kids.  Let's grow our own teachers. That's what we're doing," principal Disa Hauge said.

This is the first year for Waianae's Teaching Academy.

"They're learning how to do lesson plans. They're learning to present. They're learning how to create relationships to the other students and other personnel in the school," Teaching Academy teacher Leann Manuel said.

The students are also learning that public schools on the leeward coast need teachers to stay, not teacher turnover.

"I want to come back to my community, mostly prefer being Waianae Elementary. And I want to specifically teach first graders," Hope Iokia said.

"We understand own community," Lokahi Gomes-Kahanu said.  "We understand the kids here, how they act.  So it'll be easier for us to teach."  ....

Waianae is trying to solve its shortage from the inside.  Thirty students are enrolled in the the Teaching Academy.

read ... Homegrown solution to teacher shortage

Individual assessments planned in Kaka'ako homeless camp ahead of sweep

HNN: ...Starting as early as Monday social workers will begin to document stories like this one.  Finding out who each person is, how they got there (ask them who paid for their one-way airline ticket) and identify what resources they need.

"They're starting the count to see who's there and then with that we will decide going together the enforcement part and then helping them get into some form of housing.  Short term maybe initially and then into more permanent housing," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Caldwell says Governor Ige's newly formed task force on homelessness has gotten a lot accomplished over the past week and a half.

"We've talked to land owners in Kaka'ako.  We've talked about how we could do a phased approach of enforcements.  We have a notice we'd post.  We have a notice that we'd share with your station so that people know what we'll be doing and how we'll be doing it," said Mayor Caldwell.

Maria says it wouldn't take much to get back on her feet.  Just some help with child care so she can nail down a job and money for first months rent....

read ... Individual assessments planned in Kaka'ako homeless camp ahead of sweep

95% Criminals at State Mental Hospital

HNN: The state's only public mental hospital is getting funding for 200 more beds, more than a decade after making the request.  But by the time that extra space is built...will it be enough?  It could take up to 8 years to build the additional beds the State Hospital requested almost 15 years ago. (Only government can be this incompetent.)  But given the way the facility is used the money might as well be spent building a new jail.

"We've criminalized the State Hospital," said Dr. James Westfall, Chief of Psychiatry for the Adult Mental Health Division of the Department of Health.

Westfall says the population of the State Hospital is overrun with criminals.

"Depending on any specific day it's over 90 percent. Probably 95 percent," said Westfall.

Westfall says court mandated care is the reason for the imbalance.  The problem that creates is seen on Honolulu city streets and homeless shelters.  Service providers estimate 30 percent of the homeless have some sort of substance abuse or mental illness.  With the state hospital full of criminals there's no room to help the homeless.  In fact, Westfall says people cannot get admitted into the State Hospital unless they are a criminal.

Of the 202 patients in the State Hospital at the time of this report, Westfall says only 5 came in on their own.   And those were admitted in the 1970s....

read ... Criminal Insanity

Feds Make City spend millions on storm drain upgrades at police stations

HNN: The city of Honolulu is spending millions of dollars upgrading police stations and other city facilities to meet federal pollution control requirements....

The city is spending $771,731 to make sure fuel from gas tanks doesn't spill and flow into storm drains outside the Kalihi station....

A similar project is underway at the Kapolei police station, costing even more: $874,100.

These upgrades are unfunded federal mandates the city must pay for itself....

The city has already spent another $300,000 on storm drain improvements at the HPD headquarters on Beretania Street.

Some of the projects involve installing oil-water separators....

Other city facilities such as fire stations and corporation yards around the island are going through similar expensive upgrades over the next few years.

This fall, another storm drain improvement project will get underway at the police substation in Wahiawa near Lake Wilson.  The price tag for that one: $1.6 million....

read ... Millions Wasted

Cellmate of Waikiki Homosexual Murderer Dies in Arizona Prison

KITV: ...Corrections Officers found 21-year old inmate Namauleg unconscious and face-down on the floor in the cell. They immediately notified an emergency response team and medical staff who arrived within minutes to assess Namauleg and begin CPR. An ambulance arrived at 3:30 p.m. to take over CPR and take Namauleg to a nearby hospital.

The hospital pronounced Namauleg deceased at about 5 p.m. An autopsy is pending.

Eloy Police are investigating the cause of death and are treating the cell in which the death occurred as a crime scene. Department of Public Safety investigators are also being sent to Arizona to investigate the incident.

Jonathan Namauleg was serving three years for third degree arson on Maui.

41-year old Jason McCormick is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole for second degree murder.  McCormick was found guilty of second-degree murder in the 1996 strangulation of a University of Pittsburgh professor (who had hired McCormick as a gay prostitute, but, as usual, the media is holding that little tidbit back). The victim, Robert Henderson,  was at the time a guest lecturer at the University of Hawaii.

The case remained unsolved until 2008, when McCormick confessed while being treated at a psychiatric facility....

read ... two dead



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