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Tuesday, May 10, 2016
May 10, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:24 PM :: 3977 Views

Laughable: HB2085 Would Have Banned Gasoline-and Diesel-Powered Vehicles

Survey: Hawaii #1 for Road Rage

Getting Old? Hawaii 7th Best Place to be

Variable Electric Pricing: What a Difference a Rate Makes

UHERO: Hawaii Innovation Matters

BYUH One of 20 Best Education Schools in US

After more than a decade of West Coast disruptions, shippers are wising up

43% of State Legislators Unchallenged in Election

Borreca: …Across the board, Hawaii’s legislative races are becoming less competitive.

Fewer people are running for office and dramatically fewer incumbents are being tossed out.

A fast look at the latest list of candidates either taking out nomination papers or filing papers shows that a staggering 22 state House races have only one candidate.

That means that right now 43 percent of the state House races have no opposition. That’s not a lessening of competition, that is a slaughter.

A study by Ballotpedia, an online political almanac, shows that “the percentage of uncontested Hawaii state Senate elections increased from 9.1 percent in 1968 to 30.8 percent in 2014.” ….

Fritz Rohlfing, GOP Hawaii chairman, said the minority party is trying to support candidates who have a chance of winning.

“We are focusing our efforts on races we believe we have a shot of winning. We have some very good candidates in races that they have an excellent chance,” Rohlfing said in an interview.

The local GOP has been criticized for not putting a candidate in every race, but Rohlfing said that is not the way to win.

“I am opposed to people running just to put their name on the ballot. The way we become a significant opposition party is when we run and win,” Rohlfing said….

read … Unchallenged

Kauai, Maui Power Grab Would Abolish Mayor Put Council in Control

KE: …In what reads as a blatant power grab, the Kauai County Council is proposing sweeping changes to the County Charter that would extend their terms, install a county manager and strip the mayor of all administrative authority.

Uh, why? Because the Council is doing such a great job that it should be given even more control over county government?

The Council will take up the proposed changes in the form of a resolution at Wednesday's committee meeting, where it will also consider two bills regulating homestays/B&Bs. One measure would prohibit them outside of the Visitor Destination Area.

Council Chair Mel Rapozo introduced the charter resolution, which was opposed only by Councilmen Ross Kagawa and Arryl Kaneshiro. The others justified it as a way to take the politics out of county government. Mmm, like the Council — and this very proposal — isn't uber political?

If the resolution is approved, the proposed charter changes would go before the voters in the November election.

The proposed charter changes would eliminate the current checks and balances in the county system by giving the Council authority to hire and oversee a County Manager, who would handle all the administrative duties now allocated to the Mayor. The Mayor would become a voting member of the Council, preside over meetings “and perform other duties specified by the Council.”….

MN: Panel backs putting Maui government system to vote

read … Musings: Power Mad

Will Ige Veto Gut n Replace Giveaway to Anti-GMO Activists?

AP: Rep. Chris Lee said he introduced the bill…

The bill was pushed by the Hawaii Center for Food Safety, which has lobbied against genetically modified crops and pushed for stricter pesticide regulations on the islands….

Under the Hawaii bill farmers anti-GMO activists could get up to $50,000 in tax credits for (whatever made-up) qualifying expenses (they can come up with), which include application fees, inspection costs and equipment or supplies needed to produce organic products. The state would be capped at giving out $2 million in tax breaks per year.  (Translation: They will put 40 anti-GMO activists on the payroll each year at $50K each.)

Hawaii’s organic farming bill had an unusual route through the Legislature.  (Understatement of the session.) It was introduced late in the session (in conference committee) as an amendment (Frankenstein bill) and eventually replaced an energy bill, concerning legislative observers like Tom Yamachika, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii.

Yamachika said the proposed tax break is unusual, because it would completely cover the certification cost.

“Usually you want the business to have some skin in the game so they have an incentive to look for the most efficient or effective ways of accomplishing what they need to,” Yamachika said. “Because if you’re not paying for stuff, there really is no reason for you to shop to get the best price.”

Gov. David Ige has not yet decided whether he’ll sign the bill….


Legislator’s Anonymous Proviso Pushing UH School of Education off Manoa Campus?

HNN: …It all came to a head last fall, following a Hawaii News Now report. UH closed a building deemed unsafe, moved students to other classrooms on campus, and asked lawmakers for $600,000 to tear down the condemned building and the one next to it.

In the newest wrinkle to the story, the request wasn't just denied, a lawmaker added a budget restriction that could force the college to move to another campus, presumably UH-West Oahu.

The budget restriction says that as long as the College of Education is on the Manoa campus, it gets no money from of the university's nearly $48.6 million  budget for deferred maintenance….

… UH President David Lassner and the university's chief financial officer were both "surprised" about the mandate….

State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, vice chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, wouldn't tell Hawaii News Now who was behind the proviso. "The amendments are offered by members and, you know, I would prefer that you talk the ... that the member give you a call one I get a hold of them," he said.

Dela Cruz does agree with the message the restriction sends to the university, however.

He says he wants the UH Board of Regents to focus on the future.

"The bigger picture of where the system is headed needs to be a lot clearer. We have campuses all over the state," he said.

"There's many duplicative programs and there are only so many resources. Hopefully they consider looking at UH-West Oahu, so that maybe we can consider a brand new building, especially since a number of schools are going to built out in that area." ….

SA: Lawmakers want college relocated

read … Secret Legislation

Bishop Museum Run into Ground by Lazy, Incompetent Directors

SA: …This is the director who, with little relevant experience, received this job without the scrutiny of a national search. His fundraising acumen apparently was also lacking, and after a series of retrenchments and layoffs, he determined, apparently without objection from the current board, that the only way to deal with a serious deficit in 2015 was to get a bank loan.

The major strategy he had for supporting this decision was to again cut funding to the research staff, the very activity that has made the museum world-famous for great research in Polynesia and the Pacific.

All of us who respect and love this museum hope that this time, a board of directors will be appointed that understands its fiduciary responsibilities, and that a CEO will be selected who has the depth and ability to right this ship and steer it straight, not into the ground….

read … Bishop

UH researchers frustrated by biolab's lengthy closure

HNN: The University of Hawaii is trying to get its troubled biosafety lab back on track. The facility at the John A. Burns School of Medicine in Kakaako has been closed for 10 months, delaying critical research.

The level 3 lab is equipped for research and experiments involving infectious diseases such as tuberculosis. UH officials said the facility was supposed to be closed for three months for routine maintenance, but upgrades and equipment replacement led to delays.

"A lot of his boils down to neither the components, the equipment parts, nor the requisite personnel were available here on the island, and all of that had to come from the mainland," explained Michael Bruno, UH Manoa's vice chancellor for research.

The work in the lab is now finished, according to Bruno. The facility still needs to pass federal and state inspections in order to resume operations. Mandatory training for all users is also underway. Officials hope to have the lab back open sometime this month.

read … Closure

Future of Oahu's biggest and most efficient power plant in limbo

HNN: …Kalaeloa Partners power plant produces 20 percent of Oahu's electricity.

"We are by default the most efficient power plant on the island," general manager Hans "Ruedi" Tobler said.

But time is running out on a 25-year power purchase agreement between Kalaeloa Partners and HECO. The utility buys all the energy the plant generates.

"Our goal is to continue to be ready to produce and run," Tobler said. "We believe this plant must continue to run in the future regardless of what the contract is between the two parties."

The contract with HECO ends May 23, and the parties haven't settled on a new one. The power plant is 25 years old and needs expensive updating. That's hard to do without a long-term agreement.

Henry Curtis, of environmental group Life of the Land, said the two entities have been negotiating since 2011….

read … Future of one of Oahu's biggest power plants in limbo

Ahakuleo Family Drew $527K in Annual Salaries from Local 1260 IBEW

SA: Brian Ahakuelo, the embattled leader of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260, said today he has retired from his position.

Ahakuelo, 55, was the business manager and financial secretary for Local 1260, representing more than 3,200 electrical workers. He was placed on administrative leave Friday, pending an investigation into the union’s finances….

Ahakuelo earned $201,712 in 2015, while his wife Marilyn, director of community services, was paid $105,119, according to the union’s most recent annual financial report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. Ahakuelo’s son, Brandon, the union’s chief of staff, was paid $143,274. Executive assistant Neiani Ahakuelo, Brian’s daughter-in-law, received $77,656, the filing shows.

The International Office of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said it placed Local 1260 in trusteeship “in order to investigate and correct financial issues that have arisen in the local.”

“This is an ongoing investigation by the International Office and we are unable to comment on the process until it is fully completed,” said Mark Brueggenjohann, director of media of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Washington, D.C. “Our priority is always to protect our members’ rights and to guarantee that their dues are used in an appropriate and transparent manner. We will continue our trusteeship until there is full clarity on all financial issues and corrective measures have been implemented.” ….

read … Nepotism

Financial probe underway at IBEW Local 1260

KITV: Last Friday morning, IBEW business agent Brian Ahakuelo said he spent all of seven minutes at the Bishop Street union offices.  He was told to collect his personal items and leave.  Ahakuelo said Local 1260 was being put into trusteeship and an audit was underway….

In a written statement IBEW International Vice-President John O'Rourke said,  "The trusteeship as imposed in accordance with IBEW's Constitution and federal labor law to prevent and correct financial issues within the local."

Ahakuelo said 19 of his staff have been put on paid administrative leave, although some clerical staff may have been asked to report back Monday….

The University of Hawaii's Center on Labor Education & Research said there's no telling how long the process will last when the national union steps in.

"I have seen them go for a couple of years and less than a year," said Puette.

Puette said two recent Hawaii trusteeship cases come to mind. One  involved the corruption case against United Public Workers leader Gary Rodrigues….

The union recently sold its Moiliili offices and opted to rent downtown offices and build a media training center….

read … Probe

Medicated Dopers Tinker With Marijuana Laws

HTH: …The state’s newly selected medical marijuana dispensary operators could be permitted to grow under natural sunlight, and advanced practice registered nurses might be allowed to certify new patients.

Those and other proposed changes to the dispensary law are included in the omnibus House Bill 2707, which is awaiting Gov. David Ige’s approval….

The bill on the governor’s desk, however, requires licensees to notify the state Department of Health prior to building or changing the translucent-roof facility.

The measure also expands the list of marijuana products a patient can legally purchase, though notably it excludes marijuana cigarettes, provides dispensaries a form of state tax relief, calls for creation of a “legislative working group” to oversee and recommend legislation to improve the system and allows for interisland transport of medical marijuana for testing purposes, as it’s currently unknown how many — and where — state-authorized testing labs will open.

Rep. Joy San Buenaventura, D-Puna, who co-signed the bill, lauded its success but said there are parts of the law she would like to revisit during next year’s legislative session.

For example, she said she would push to add marijuana cigarettes as a product patients can use and remove a law that would make it a felony for non-patients to even visit a dispensary. As soon as dispensaries open, “people are going to be curious,” she said….

read … Tinkering

22,677 Warnings for Homeless who Continue to Refuse Shelter

SA: …in the 15 neighborhoods from Waimanalo to Wahiawa that were added to the sit-lie law by City Council members, the law does not appear to have been used.

Honolulu Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Yu, in response to a Honolulu Star-Advertiser query, reported that as of April 3 there have been:

>> In Waikiki, 2,161 warnings, 417 citations and nine arrests for violations of the sit-lie ordinance since the law was first applied there in September 2014.

>> In Chinatown-downtown, 19,942 warnings, 148 citations and six arrests for sit-lie violations since the law went into effect in December 2014.

>> At downtown-Chinatown pedestrian malls — Union Street, Fort Street, Sun Yat-sen and Kekaulike malls — 574 warnings, no citations and no arrests for sit-lie violations since the law went into effect there in February 2015.

Yu, however, said there is no record of sit-lie warnings, citations or arrests outside of those three areas. It’s not even clear whether the department has received any complaints of possible sit-lie violations in those other areas….

To see the maps where the sit-lie ordinance is in place, go to

SA: Centers still deliver hope, help to homeless Hawaii families who accept shelter

read … Warnings

HUD Cuts Hawaii Homeless Funding

CB: …“If you look at it from a national perspective we know the answer is permanent supportive housing and Housing First is the right way to go,” Okahara said. “But in Hawaii where it’s high cost and we have very limited housing supply, period, much less housing supply for permanent supportive housing, it’s very hard … to sit here and say everybody switch to just permanent supportive housing particularly when the cost of doing so is really expensive in Hawaii compared to running a shelter, per se.”

He said the state, city and private sector may be able to help fill some of the funding gaps. There’s also another HUD funding cycle coming up this summer, but the federal agency will continue to prioritize permanent housing as well as take into account program performance measures.

Connie Mitchell, director of the Institute for Human Services, the state’s largest homeless shelter, said in an emailed statement that she understands HUD’s priorities but worries about the immediate impact.

“We interpret the cuts as a clear indication of HUD’s expectation that homeless systems need to focus on promoting access to help more quickly and making permanent housing the priority,” she wrote. “But the cuts are tragically impacting special populations the most: folks dealing with substance abuse, mental illness and HIV-AIDS.” ….

LINK: Grants not Renewed

read … Housing First

Gay Inc Leaves Homeless Hawaii AIDS Patients in Lurch

CB: Jonathon Berliner doesn’t know what to do. His organization, Gregory House Programs, just lost a $335,489 federal grant that the nonprofit has relied on for over a decade to provide temporary housing to homeless people suffering from HIV/AIDS in Honolulu.

One of the program’s residents has cancer, and has been rejected from nursing homes in part because of his AIDS. He’s getting frail, Berliner said, and doesn’t have anywhere else to go.

In less than four months, Berliner needs to come up with enough money to continue to house him and 14 other people who are currently staying at the Honolulu shelter.

Gregory House Programs is one of seven nonprofits left searching for funding after a key federal program supporting homelessness initiatives declined to approve $1.3 million in grant renewals last week….

read … Where’s the Big Gay Money?

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