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Friday, September 16, 2016
September 16, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:58 PM :: 5113 Views

Efforts to Expand GEMS Loan Programs Shot Down by Consumer Advocate, PUC

Democrat Vice Chair Resigns—’Party More Dictatorial’

Understanding Hawaii Teacher Shortages

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted September 15, 2016

S&P, Fitch Upgrade Hawaii Bonds

What if Hawaii’s government were run by a private company?

Hanabusa to Quit Congress in 2018, Run for Governor?

Borreca:  …While Hanabusa is the odds-on favorite to return to Congress, there have been political rumors that she was also interested in running for governor in two years.

When asked about it this week, Hanabusa said she was running for Congress, but would decide her political future in the future.

“My purpose is to serve the people of Hawaii. Right now I best serve by running for this office and returning to Washington and continue projects I had started as part of the delegation.”

But Hanabusa said, “I am not ruling anything out in the future.” …

read … Governor?

Kenoi: AG Leaked info to HNN Reporter About Me Getting Drunk With Star-Adv Reporter

SA: Lawyers for Hawaii island Mayor Billy Kenoi will argue in Hilo Circuit Court today that the indictment charging him with theft, tampering with government records and making a false statement under oath in connection with his misuse of a county credit card should be thrown out….

If he does not prevail, Kenoi will be the first sitting mayor in the state since former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi to be tried on criminal charges. His trial is scheduled for Oct. 10.

In one of four motions filed by Kenoi’s attorneys, he claims the Attorney General’s Office intentionally leaked “privileged and secret information to its chosen media partner — Hawaii News Now and its reporter Rick Daysog,” citing his exclusive reports….

read … Incestuous

Lawsuit Filed to Pry Loose AG’s Report on Wrongdoing in State Auditor’s Office

CB: Honolulu Civil Beat filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Department of the Attorney General in an attempt to free up records related to the agency’s investigation of alleged wrongdoing inside the Office of the Auditor.

The attorney general’s office has refused to publicly release documents related to its inquiry, although it has shared its final investigative reports with certain state legislators, including Senate President Ron Kouchi.….

Few details have come out about the AG’s investigation.

What’s known is that the investigation took place while Jan Yamane was the acting state auditor. Yamane was assigned to that position in December 2012 after the retirement of longtime auditor Marion Higa.

In April, the Legislature voted to replace Yamane with former Hawaii State Ethics Commission Executive Director Les Kondo. It was a curious move at the time given Kondo’s often fractious relationship with legislators, and in particular House Speaker Joe Souki.

Yamane is now the executive director of the Honolulu Ethics Commission. She did not return a request for comment Thursday….

CB: Investigation Of Hawaii State Auditor Needs To Be Made Public

PDF: Text of Lawsuit

read … Secret Report

$3 billion cap on rail spending evaporated within a decade without a squeak

DN: "I was startled that the people who are doing the alternatives analysis (study) are looking at a $3 billion cap on spending rather than a system that will work for Oahu," Councilwoman Barbara Marshall said. —9-8-2006 Star-Bulletin story

SA: Don’t slide on TOD housing goals

read … Evaporated

Clean Energy Initiative Latest Excuse for Transportation Tax Hike

KHON: …with more fuel efficient cars on the road — the state is making less money.  (So they want to punish you for using less gas.)

Today, KHON2 learned the state will spend millions of dollars to test a mileage based fee.

By the gallon or by the mile. That’s the question the Hawaii Department of transportation is hoping to answer with a new study set to conclude in 2019.

The project will be rolled out in six phases and will involve over 1 million people.

Shelly Kunishige with the DOT says the first step is having drivers manually report miles to see how much road drivers are using. “Right now we are looking at basically based on what you use. So right now with the gas tax you’re kind of limited by your car’s gas mileage and other factors.”

The projected cost of the project will come in around $19 million. So who’s footing the bill? $6.5 million dollars is federal money. The state will chip in another $1.5 million. The final $11 million will be provided by what’s called in kind contributions by the 1.1 million drivers who participate which is about 10 dollars per car….

read … Tax Hike

Big Oil Buys Big Influence at Big Eco Conference

IM: In 2010 IUCN and Shell Oil hired Stephen Turner to write a report about their collaborative efforts.

“Shell International BV (‘Shell’) and IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature) signed a five year collaborative partnership agreement in October, 2007. Both organisations have adopted partnerships as a strategy to help achieve their objectives. Shell has partnerships with other environmental organisations, and IUCN has developed similar links with a number of companies. Half way through the current Shell-IUCN partnership agreement, its Steering Committee has commissioned this review of progress.”

“The Shell partnership is strongly opposed by some in IUCN’s constituency. This creates a dilemma: the types of activity on which the partners have chosen to focus much of their effort will yield mid- to long-term outcomes, and it takes time to build an appropriate process of partnership between such different organisations. Yet IUCN must demonstrate successful short-term results if the partnership is to remain politically defensible – notably at the next World Conservation Congress in September 2012.”

“Despite the official confirmation of their relevance, such relationships with business are the most controversial area of IUCN’s operations. The nature of IUCN makes a unity of view on almost any subject unlikely, but attitudes to private sector engagements – especially partnerships with extractive industries like oil and gas – span the full spectrum from strong support to angry opposition, with an extensive field of ambivalence in between.”

“Shell partnership itself was the subject of vigorous debate at the 2008 World Conservation Congress. Some elements in the Union dismiss such relationships, and specifically this partnership, as not only irrelevant but actually harmful to IUCN’s character and commitments.”

Nnimmo Bassey is a Nigerian architect, environmentalist activist, author and poet, who chaired Friends of the Earth International from 2008 through 2012. He was one of Time magazine's Heroes of the Environment in 2009. In 2010, Nnimmo Bassey was named co-winner of the Right Livelihood Award, and in 2012 he was awarded the Rafto Prize. He serves on the Advisory Board and is Director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, an environmental think tank and advocacy organization.

Three years ago Nnimmo Bassey published “IUCN Attempts to Greenwash Shell with Flawed Report on Oil Disaster in Ogoniland.”

CB: IUCN: ‘If They Can Do It Why Can’t I?’

read … Greenwash

With Biosecurity, Who Decides Who The Enemy Is?

CB: …biosecurity, like national security, has an enemy. But who decides who that enemy is?

Over the years, as the director of an environmental/animal protection organization, I have found myself at odds with the government over what is an invasive species. For the government, any species that was not in Hawaii prior to Western contact could be called invasive.

Put differently, if Western civilization brought it, then it “doesn’t belong.” The alien species are interfering with the native population of species. The aliens take space, water, and food from natives. They were not part of the pre-contact environment, making them invasive and slated for eradication….

read … Enemy?

Hawaii Could Lose 30% of Farms in Next 3-5 Years

SA: …One sobering issue discussed was federal food safety certification requirements. Enright said the good news is that 90 to 95 percent of Hawaii farms will be exempt because they gross less than $500,000 a year. But the bad news, he said, is that food wholesalers, retailers and restaurants will be under pressure to have all farm suppliers comply on some level within the next three to five years.

Enright said he wouldn’t be surprised if Hawaii loses 30 percent of its farms because they can’t comply with food safety certification.

“Food safety is a game-changer,” he said, adding that the state Department of Agriculture has received money to create a food safety branch with its own manager to be hired in December as part of an effort to help farms comply. The Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation also has $750,000 from the state to address the issue.

Chris Robb, a farmer growing lettuce, broccoli, beets, fennel and sweet onions on Hawaii island, knows how challenging the food safety rules can be since he obtained certification in 2010. At one point, the rules prohibited his workers from taking bottled water into the field.

“It’s frustrating because every time you’d turn around they’re changing the regulations,” he recalled, adding that the rules are now nearly finalized.

Leticia Uyehara, marketing director for Armstrong Produce, said her firm can help farms work toward certification, and that there will probably come a day when Armstrong won’t be able to buy from them if they don’t certify….

read … Lose 30%

DLNR reviews fishing license procedures for foreign longliner crews

KHON: …Could state fishing licenses be leveraged to bring better conditions for foreign labor aboard Hawaii’s longline fishing fleet? Lawmakers and the agency issuing them are exploring solutions.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources says while it can’t prevent giving nor revoke fishing licenses to qualified crews, they are looking at whether their processes can or need to change.

In the years since foreign laborers and concerned advocates came forward to KHON2’s Always Investigating about rock bottom pay, broken contracts and unsafe conditions on their fishing boats, authorities, agencies and lawmakers tried to intervene.

“I promised that I would investigate, and I did,” Rep. Karl Rhoads, Judiciary Committee chairman, recalls. “But as soon as your story went out, the next day I got a call from somebody who refused to identify themselves who said don’t even think about investigating this.”

KHON2 asked how did he respond. “I said, well, I’m going to investigate this. I’m not out to get anybody but I want to know what’s going on because, on the surface, it’s an appalling violation of labor rights.” ….

CB: US Labor Dept. To Look At Fish Fleet Conditions

read … Threats

Ige Not Likely to Extend Homelessness State of Emergency

KITV: …"The target population is unsheltered families with young children. It's going to be a low-barrier facility. You are not going to need ID or a lot documentation to get in. The goal is to get families off the street, and then help them address the challenges they may face,” said State Homeless coordinator Scott Morishige.

Morishige had hoped to open the shelter in February but a major problem with a broken sewer line set the project back.  The state set aside $750,000 to renovate the warehouse and turn what was a hot, dark and dingy structure into something bright and welcoming.

Architects and designers with Group 70 and Engineering worked on the project for free.

"We spray foamed the roof and that changed things dramatically. The sound, the overall feel of the place. There's ceiling fans there's solar vents there’s windows all open 100 percent ventilation. Even a day like today very hot outside its very comfortable," said Russ Wozniak.

The facility sports new showers and bathrooms that can accommodate wheelchairs. Engineers said it was a challenge to design a system to handle the unexpected.

"A lot of these projects, they have a tendency to be difficult to maintain," said Robert Kubota of Douglas Engineering Pacific.

The state facility will operate much like the city's navigational center at Sand Island whose aim is to get the people into permanent shelter.  Morishige said the number of homeless families has jumped 87 percent over the last five years.

"We have seen the number of families with minor children grow steadily from year-to- year. So we know we need to do something and do something quickly. The emergency proclamation allows us to do that," Morishige said.

That proclamation has helped to bypass zoning restrictions.  But Morishige said when it expires in Mid-October, it will probably not be extended as the state transitions into its long-term strategy to address the affordable housing crisis….

read … Emergency

Psychiatrists: Hawaii County Police Officer is ‘Fit to Proceed’ in Criminal Case

HTH: … On Wednesday, 3rd Circuit Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra reviewed the reports of three doctors who examined Harper.

Ibarra found Harper fit to proceed, but added a caveat about the time of the incident.

“The reports agree there might be an issue with responsibility,” Ibarra said, adding “because of the high public interest, I’m scheduling it for November.” …

“All I can say is that the (mental health) proceeding yielded information that our office needed to best advise Mr. Harper about his options moving forward,” Kwiat wrote. “We look forward to providing Mr. Harper with a strong defense to the charges.” ….

read … Mental Health

Elementary school teacher accused of sexual assault of child

HNN: …A science teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Waikiki is on leave after being accused of sexually assaulting a girl over a period of five years.

Michael Wright, 33, was indicted by a grand jury last week on five counts of sex assault.

According to a temporary restraining order, the girl said the abuse started when she was 12 years old.

Between 2011 and 2013, she said, Wright was inappropriately touching her. Then in 2013, when she was 14 years old, she says he "groomed" and manipulated her into having a relationship with him.

The latest incident, she said, happened in late July, when he allegedly got into the shower with her.

On August 26, the girl reportedly sought help after she says she found child porn on his phone. Wright was arrested Sept. 6.

The girl knows Wright through relatives.

A state Department of Education spokeswoman said Wright is on department-ordered leave. He has been with the DOE for nine years. 

read … Accused

With No Developer to Shake Down, Nobody Cares About Exposed Iwi

HNN: "The area was not roped off, not quarantined and it's clearly visible that the bones were left out," he said.

Mainaaupo said the bones were first found a month ago and a state archeologist came out to the site and covered them up. They had determined that the it was an inadvertent find, meaning that they were likely old Hawaiian remains.

What bothered him was that the protections for the iwi were now gone.

"The concern is that after all this time it's still exposed to the elements," he said.

"The bones are exposed, the spinal cord is on top of the soil. It's right in the sunlight and anybody can come by and might even step on it and crush the skull."

Mainaaupo called the police, the Oahu Burial Council and the state Historic Preservation Division but got nowhere.

"We got redirected at the burial council to a number that was busy and we got one call back from the Kahuku police station informing us that they are aware of the situation and they didn't have the right permits to touch the remains or move it," he said.

Experts say the state should act faster to protect the iwi….

read … No Opportunity for Greenmail



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