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Friday, January 8, 2016
January 8, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:12 PM :: 4926 Views

Where to Vote: Hawaii Republican Presidential Caucus

Nai Aupuni in Contempt of Supreme Court? Latest Filings

Supreme Court to Consider Nai Aupuni Contempt January 15

Ige Budget: $104M omissions, mystery spending cuts

Federal Aid? Hawaii Ranks 49th

Glass Houses of Marijuana: Pots, Kettles and the Color Black

UH Reports Hawaii Hemp is Top Shelf

DLNR to Loosen Death Grip on Hilo Businesses?

Public Meeting on Honolulu Bikeways January 13

What the Constitution Really Says About Race and Slavery

76% ‘Not Good’ -- Overall, what do you think about the condition of our city parks and playgrounds?

UH Manoa—10 Salaries over $300K

KL: 10 Highest Salaries at UH Mānoa

Jerris Hedges, dean of John A. Burns School of Medicine $505,008

Aviam Soifer, dean of William S. Richardson Law School $403,128

V. Vance Roley, dean of Shidler College of Business $375,768

Peter Crouch, dean of College of Engineering $323,424

Carl-Wilhelm Vogel, prof. at UH Cancer Center $323,220

Ralph V. Shohet, prof. at Center for Cardiovascular Research $322,368

Michele Carbone, prof. at UH Cancer Center $322,368

Brian Taylor, interim vice chancellor for research $321,000

Lawrence Burgess, prof. of surgery and director of Telehealth Research Institute at JABSOM $315,324

Tom Apple, chair of chemistry department 310,968

read … Salaries of University of Hawai‘i employees released

Honolulu City Council Will Consider Co-op or Muni Alternative To HECO

CB: …Thanks to a resolution Honolulu City Council Chair Ernie Martin introduced last July, the county will soon examine the idea of creating an alternative to Oahu’s power company.

Possibilities include municipal or cooperative public ownership of the power company.

The resolution is entitled, ”Declaring the Council’s Intent to Consider All Options Regarding the Provision of Electrical Service, Including The Investigation Of Electric Utility Public Ownership On The Island Of Oahu.”

A proposal for public ownership would face opposition from Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

The County Council Committee on Executive Matters and Legal Affairs, which includes all nine members of the City Council, is scheduled to take up the resolution Tuesday at 1 p.m. That committee’s chair, Trevor Ozawa, did not respond to a request for comment.

Resolution 15-214 signals “the Council’s intent to consider all options regarding the provision of electric service.”….

read … Coop or Muni

Increase In Hawaii Revenue Forecast ‘Doesn’t Really Amount To That Much’

CB: The Hawaii Council on Revenues on Thursday upped the amount of money expected to flow into the state’s coffers this year, but only by a bit.

For fiscal year 2016, which runs until June 30, the general fund revenue forecast was boosted from a growth rate of 6 percent to 6.7 percent.

That translates into about $40 million for the state budget — not a whole lot of cash, said Rep. Sylvia Luke, the Democrat who chairs the House Finance Committee at the Hawaii Legislature.

“In the big scheme of things, that doesn’t really amount to that much, and so it doesn’t really mean that much,” Luke said. “We have still got to remember that spending a substantial amount more than we are taking in is a concern — that our expenditures are over our revenues. Forty-million dollars doesn’t help to balance our trend of spending more than we take in.” ….

SA: Revenue council increases tax projection for state fund

read … $40M

Are Charter Schools Funded Equitably? Lawmakers Want Clearer Numbers

CB: …The Charter School Commission is requesting $29.3 million in capital improvement funds for charter schools located on state-owned property, and $972,300 to support commission expenses and pay bonuses to teachers in hard-to-staff areas.

The DOE is is asking for an additional $45.7 million for its operating budget and $112.8 million in capital improvement funds….

Although DOE schools and charter schools are funded differently, increases to the DOE’s operating budget do result in an increase in funding for charter schools, said Tom Hutton, the commission’s executive director.

That’s because charters — public schools that operate with a greater degree of autonomy than schools run by the DOE — are primarily funded on a per-pupil basis, using a calculation based on the state DOE’s annual appropriation. That per-pupil rate has risen from about $6,009 two years ago to $6,846 in the current school year.

The DOE says it spends about $11,803 a year educating students in its schools, but that figure includes expenses like debt servicing and is much more than each school actually receives on an annual basis.

So just how big is the gap in funding between DOE-operated public schools and charter schools, Rep. Gene Ward asked Hutton.

“I’m not sure we are comparing apples to apples,” Hutton said.

read … Charter

DoE Campbell Contract $1M per Classroom

HNN: The DOE is asking for $35 million for a 30-classroom building. They say the school with more than 3,000 students is already well over capacity, and is expected to see 3,600 students by 2018.

But lawmakers say the price tag is far too big.

"A million dollars a classroom is not going to give us the kind of improvements that we need," said state Sen. Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. "We've got needs in every district." …

The proposed building will be three stories tall to save space; it will also be air-conditioned and state of the art.

But state leaders want to know why that one building will cost $35 million while an entire elementary school, Hookele, was built in Kapolei for $40 million….

Hookele was built on an empty lot, and it was a design-build, which means one company did both, saving time and money.

read … $30M

OHA Kakaako Makai Deal Puts $1.2M Hole in HCDA Budget

PBN: The Hawaii Community Development Authority is facing a budget deficit because of $1.2 million in annual funding taken away after the state gave 30 acres of land in Honolulu to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in a deal meant to resolve a decades-long dispute.

Aedward Los Banos, interim executive director of the state agency that regulates development in Kakaako, said Wednesday at the board's regular meeting that agency's largest recurring expense is the maintenance of parks in the area….

That had been funded by revenue generated by some of the land given to OHA, another state agency, four years ago….

read … OHA Millions Evaporate into Nothingness

Charles Djou Endorses John Kasich for President

CDFB: I'm supporting Ohio Gov John Kasich for President. My reason is simple - he's the best qualified person. America has suffered from placing an inexperienced one-term senator in the White House. Our nation needs a real leader who takes problems seriously and Gov Kasich is the right person with executive experience who can do the job. I invite you to join us. Aloha.  https://johnkasich.com/

HNN: Charles Djou announces support for Ohio Gov. John Kasich in presidential race

read … Charles Djou

House Candidate Jaci Agustin Launches App to Communicate with Constituents

HNN: You can make a phone call or shoot an email to your elected officials. But it doesn't guarantee they'll see it, much less get back to you.

That's why candidate Jaci Agustin is trying something different.

Jaci Agustin, who announced a run for state House on Wednesday, will be using a smart phone app starting in March to chat with voters. She sees it as another way to reach constituents, in addition to more traditional rallies and community meetings.

"It's something that can help people not only connect with me, but I can connect with them," Agustin said.

The app took four months and about $3,000 to create.

App developer Zane Lacaden calls that money well spent in an effort to reach younger voters.

He says he created the app to enhance that line of communication. "It's something that hasn't been done," he said. "It's not a third-party or fifth-party wheel that's doing something for Jaci. It's Jaci being directly involved with the app."

Agustin says her favorite feature in the app isn't directly tied to her run for office. Instead it's the tab that allows folks an easy way to register to vote.

read … Jaci Agustin

Supreme Court Redistricting Case Is New Front in Voting Wars

TO: In the lead up to the Supreme Court arguments in Evenwel v. Abbott most commentators agreed that the redistricting case was among the most momentous in a generation. The case raises "as fundamental an issue for a democracy as can be imagined," according to SCOTUSblog….

The only Court ruling that will help is one that mandates the use of population as a whole and bars any other manipulation of the denominator.

That question is not before the Court. Not only is it not before the Court, but it has in fact previously blessed non-population denominators. Starting with Burns v. Richardson in 1966 and leading up to 2014's ruling in Kostick v. Nago, the Supreme Court has countenanced Hawaii's apportionment scheme which drops out military members, their families and college students….

read … Voting Wars

Keeping a lid on Kauai property taxes?

KGI: …The bill being considered by the Kauai County Council relating to a homestead tax cap for home exemption and long-term affordable rental properties was deferred for two weeks on Wednesday.

Gary Hooser, councilman and member of the budget and finance committee, volunteered to work with Steve Hunt, the county’s real property tax manager, on creating another bill that would outline a cap on assessment, instead.

What that does is put the brakes on the current homestead tax cap bill, originally proposed by Hooser, while he and Hunt work on another solution, without killing the bill completely. That’s because the administration introduced another possible route for dealing with real property taxes — an assessment cap instead of a tax cap.

The difference in the two approaches, according to Hunt, is that under a tax cap, the amount of property taxes that you would pay is capped. The assessment cap limits the net taxable amount….

read … Property Taxes

Maui Risks loss of $186M Federal Money

MN: A proposed new planning organization that could bring in millions of federal dollars for county transportation projects is raising concerns among Maui County Council members who worry that the organization would not be held accountable.

On Thursday, the council's Committee of Housing, Human Services and Transportation deferred action on two bills that would allow the creation of a Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization, a federally required planning body.

When specific "urban-zone areas" reach or exceed populations of 50,000 or more, as Kahului, Wailuku and Paia did collectively in 2010, county governments are required to create an such a planning organization to receive federal funding for urban transportation projects. Maui County was officially designated as an "urbanized area" in 2013.

"It could have very detrimental consequences with our funding if we don't move forward," said Don Medeiros, the newly sworn-in director of the county Department of Transportation. "It's essential that we move this process along because we're about three years behind deadline to do this." ….

Maui County would be in line to receive $186 million for projects over the next five years, and around $400,000 a year for planning and studies, according to Takamori. Funding would come from the federal government….

read … Refusing to go urban

Gun Permits: HPD Admits Nearly 100 False Denials in Just One Year

KITV: HPD's firearms section is a busy place. Each month, more than 900 people come in to either get a permit, to acquire a firearm, or to register one.

In 2014, HPD denied 22 applications for a variety of reasons, including mental health issues and criminal records. And sometimes, the denial is a mistake.

“Recently we did an internal audit of all our applicants and found that we had made an error with a percentage of our applicants – a very small, small percentage,” said Maj. Richard Robinson, HPD.

Maj. Robinson says it will affect less than 100 people. He says the error is how the department receives information from medical providers across the board and that they are working on it. It is not specific to one particular provider.

“Because the errors are on our part, what we’re going to do is reach out and contact each of those applicants….”

KITV: HPD Admits Errors in Gun Permit Denials

read … Admits Errors

Homeless Rob Restaurant Workers in Chinatown

HNN: "We're in crisis mode and the police aren't really doing much to help us out," Jones said.

Last month, Jones was leaving a meeting one afternoon when a homeless woman tried to smash out her car window.

"She looked out of her mind," said Jones….

Jones, the Downbeat Diner bar manager, says the uptick in assaults and vandalism is scary.

She says several months ago, a server was jumped by a homeless man after leaving work at 2 a.m. 

"He was stabbed in the abdomen and the forearm. He was surprise attacked. He didn't know he was stabbed until he fought the guy off," Jones said.

The server still hasn't been able to return to work. More recently, a bartender had his shirt ripped off of him on his way into work and a cook was beaten waiting for the bus. "Someone came up behind him and struck him on the head, knocked him out, stole his wallet and all his stuff," Jones said. "He woke up in an ambulance."

read … Homeless Need to buy Meth

Civil Asset Forfeiture In Hawaii: Crime Deterrent Or Legalized Theft?

CB: …Hawaii has been criticized for having some of the worst civil asset forfeiture laws in the country, leaving open the possibility of abuse.

The Institute for Justice, national nonprofit organization, recently gave the Aloha State a grade of D-minus for its forfeiture procedures, highlighting the low standard of proof that law enforcement must meet before it can seize someone’s property.

Another problem, the organization found, is that it’s up to property owners to prove they were not involved in a crime in order to keep their belongings.

The Institute for Justice’s report points out that local law enforcement agencies also have a financial interest in taking property because proceeds are split among police, prosecutors and the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office.

And while the nonprofit lauds the state for issuing annual reports that detail how much property is seized and forfeited each year, and how that money is spent, there’s no accounting of whether those actions were tied to criminal charges or convictions.

Several state lawmakers are hoping to change that in the coming Legislative session, which kicks off Jan. 20.

State Sen. Will Espero, vice chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, plans to introduce a bill that would require a conviction before a person’s property can be taken.

The bill would also allow individuals contesting forfeiture to recover attorneys’ fees if they’re successful, something that’s not allowed under current law.

Two Big Island legislators — Sen. Russell Ruderman and Rep. Joy San Buenaventura — are considering similar measures, as well as the possibility of auditing the entire asset forfeiture program.….

Related: Hawaii earns a D- for Civil Forfeiture Laws

read … Forfeiture

Publicize names of dispensary applicants

MN: …While there is no explicit provision in the law for public inspection of these applications, the increasing impact marijuana likely will have on our community once dispensaries are in place creates a public "need to know." In addition, because organizations applying for licenses need only contain 51 percent state of Hawaii resident ownership, we should know the identity of the other 49 percent.

Since only two licenses will be issued at the outset (on Maui), a unique, state-created lucrative first-to-market monopoly for finalists will result. Knowing who will profit from licensure will enable citizens to determine whether a fair selection process was used or whether political connections played a role and, if so, who the politically connected are and to whom they are connected. We need sunshine to prevent insider trading….

PBN: Medical marijuana dispensary details to be hot topic at Hawaii Legislature

read … Sunshine

HMA Recommendations for Marijuana Dispensaries

  1. Insure product purity and quantifiable potency.
  2. Avoid edibles resembling candy, cookies and other child­-oriented food items.
  3. Encourage use of naturally grown products versus extreme potency extractions such as “shatter,” “wax” and “honey oil.”
  4. Where smoking or vaping is the preferred method of delivery, perform regular medical surveillance of pulmonary impact through pulmonary function testing.
  5. Develop mandatory informed consent forms outlining the risks of cannabis use as a prerequisite at dispensing sites. This should include clear warnings that cannabis should not be used when driving motorized vehicles, working around heavy machinery or any other high-­risk environments.
  6. Develop patient education kiosks at all dispensary sites with written materials and video to the satisfaction of DOH, with special warning regarding the risk of edible forms of cannabis.
  7. Insure a smooth and efficient mechanism for reporting adverse effects of locally dispensed cannabis products and preparations.
  8. Require all certifying doctors be members of the HMA, an established Hawaii hospital or other Hawaii authoritative body with peer review oversight.
  9. Support the development of ongoing continuing medical education opportunities for local medical professionals and dispensary personnel on a) preparations and types of cannabis preparation currently available, b) current research findings and publications and c) up-to-date public health impact experience of other states where medical cannabis is legal.
  10. Insure that an ongoing medical relationship with regular follow-up be maintained between certifying physician and patient consistent with best-­practice standards of care.
  11. Dedicate a percentage of gross revenues generated by dispensing to promote education of at ­risk young people on the risks of recreational use and of adults of the dangers of over dosage, operating motor vehicles and other high risk environments while under the influence of cannabis.
  12. Dedicate a percentage of gross revenues generated to promote the reclassification of cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II allowing more definitive study of both positive and negative effects of its use. The use of these revenues should be under the control of the DOH working in concert with officials of the John A. Burns School of Medicine and the HMA.
  13. Require all cannabis dispensaries participate in the Drug Enforcement Agency prescription drug monitoring program to include type and amount of cannabis dispensed consistent with best practice standards of other local dispensaries and pharmacies.
  14. Advise all medical cannabis­ naïve patients to go “low and slow” with any and all products that exceed 10 percent THC content.

read … HMA Recommendations

40 Years Ago On Kahoolawe, A Faith Is Reborn?

CB: …At one point in 1976, Kahuna Lono found himself in Queen’s Hospital with a broken hip. One of the interns treating him was Noa Emmett Aluli, one of the Kahoolawe Nine.

When the U.S. military arrested Walter Ritte and George Helm, Emmett Aluli came to Kahuna Lono for help.

Kahuna Lono responded: “I can get you on the island.” At that point, most of the activists were unaware that their traditional faith even existed.

Kahuna Lono, assisted by his partner Robert Hudson, wrote a letter to the Navy stating that, protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the kahuna would be going to Kahoolawe to rededicate the Temple of Ku at Hakioawa. This letter was the first time in more than 100 years that anyone has asserted the right to to practice the traditional faith.

The U.S Navy stood aside for Uncle Lono and assisted him in going to the island for the re-dedication of the temple.

The kahuna left his hospital bed and traveled to Kohoolawe. He brought with him a kuula, which was a sandstone carving of an image in a sitting position that came from the Puuhonua Lehua at Moo Kapu (Pyramid Rock). This image was photographed and recorded by professor Kenneth Emory of the University of Hawaii who was also an archaeologist at the Bishop Museum. The kuula was placed at the Temple of Ku at Hakioawa.

When Kahuna Lono left the island, the Navy reasserted its authority to ban anyone else from coming. The civil disobedience resumed….

read … reborn?

Hawaii is ground zero for Ag innovation

TH: …In sharp contrast to the opinion piece, “Paradise is being poisoned” (Jan. 5, 2016), I can personally attest to the care that Hawaii’s farmers have for our land.  As a resident of Hawaii, a concerned mom and an advocate of both environmental protection and agricultural technology, I can tell you that our state is proud of our successes in both these areas.  

Since the advent of biotechnology and GMO crops, the increased use of insect-resistant crops has reduced the need for insecticides and the adoption of herbicide-tolerant crops has enabled farmers to switch to more benign products to control weeds.  An international study reviewed GM crop data collected between 1995 and 2014 and found that GMO crops have reduced chemical pesticide use by 37 percent, increased crop yields by 22 percent and increased farmer profits by 68 percent….

Unfortunately, as activists’ contempt for genetically modified food crops has grown, some of Hawaii’s papaya trees have suffered from eco-terrorism with vandals cutting down trees with machetes in the middle of the night….

My grandfather was a farmer and I used to farm myself, so it’s personally insulting that anyone would allege that Hawaii’s agriculture sector is doing anything to harm the environment or that farmers would damage the land that they depend on for their livelihood….  

Thanks to Hawaii’s climate, our islands are home to ground-breaking research in the area of agriculture innovation.  More than 200 bioscience operations in our state provide high-paying jobs to nearly 4,000 local workers.  

These facilities are discovering ways to farm more efficiently while protecting our natural resources.  These discoveries are not only helping farmers here in Hawaii, but helping millions of farmers around the world.  

For example, breakthroughs in drought-tolerant seeds have the potential to lift millions of developing country farmers out of poverty.  This same technology is providing for Golden Rice to help combat blindness in children; cassava, a staple nutrient in developing countries, can be fortified with micronutrients to fight malnutrition; and biotechnology is considered to be the leading potential solution to save the U.S. orange industry from citrus greening disease. Hawaii is proud to host much of the potentially life-saving research in these areas.

Before publishing one-sided opinions from someone who “visited” our state, ask the farmers and the people who live here about the work they do to make a better tomorrow for Hawaii and the world.

read … Innovation

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