Hirono Cancer is 'Stage 4'
ACLU: Ten Questions for Honolulu’s Next Chief of Police
OHA’s Secret Contract
Rail: The Real Trouble is Caldwell Doesn’t Care How Much it Costs
CB: The trouble is not that the Legislature “failed” to approve billions of dollars in new taxes. The real trouble is that the Mayor and certain council members seem unconcerned with runaway expenses and believe the project deserves unlimited new tax revenue, regardless of their demonstrated inability to manage costs, and regardless of the fact that rail is now taking funds from other important priorities.
Keep in mind, the original rail project was projected to run from Kapolei to the University of Hawaii Manoa at a cost of $3.7 billion. Later, the route was shortened to Ala Moana and the cost increased to $5.2 billion, which included a large contingency fund. The system was to be operational by 2019 and all debts would be retired by 2022.
Two years ago, Mayor Kirk Caldwell assured everyone that rail could be completed for $6.1 billion, and a five‐year tax extension would be enough to complete the rail project from Kapolei to Ala Moana. Today the estimated cost is nearly $10 billion, although we have yet to see the price tag for the most expensive part of the project: Downtown.
In a refreshing flash of candor, the Mayor was recently quoted as saying he did not know how much revenue a 10‐year tax extension would raise, but it would not be enough to finish the project.
read … City Leaders Must Face The Realities Of Rail
Caldwell, Council: Make the Handicapped Pay for Rail
KITV: Officials argued the raise would help fill the 10.8 million dollar gap in the city's budget that would have been satisfied by a refuse bill that was deferred.
However, some residents have already felt the pinch of high vehicle fees.
Other matters in the meeting had residents worked-up when a bill to increase public transit fees came up. …. (Caldwell plan: Make the handicapped pay for Rail.)
read … Fee and Fare Hikes
Vampire HART Sues State Blood Bank To Take Land For Rail
CB: …The agency in charge of the Honolulu rail project has filed a lawsuit to take property where the state’s non-profit blood bank manufactures, stores and distributes Hawaii’s blood supply.
The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s suit, filed Monday in Circuit Court, seeks to take a narrow strip of the Blood Bank of Hawaii’s parcel fronting Dillingham Boulevard through eminent domain to make way for the rail line….
read … Vampire
While Hiking Fees, Council Adds Useless ‘Climate Change’ Positions
SA: …The City Council Budget Committee on Wednesday restored funding for seven staff positions in the new Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency, and agreed to do away with two of three planned rate increases for TheBus and TheHandi-Van riders….
read … Tax the Handicapped to Pay for Your Global Warming Illusions
Kim Adds Positions While Raising taxes
WHT: …one question some in attendance felt the mayor has repeatedly glossed over involves what his administration is doing to create a more streamlined, efficient government.
In other words, what is Kim doing to manage expenditures he can control?
The mayor said Tuesday that almost every county department will see its budget decrease in the next fiscal year, beginning July 1. But the mayor also plans to add seven more people to the county payroll.
“I can defend every single expenditure with confidence as to why it was needed,” Kim said. “I’m not confident you will approve … but (I am confident) that there was a solid rationale for why we did it.”….
WHT: Tax hike hearing draws 10, most in support of proposal
read … Kim defends tax hikes
Saying ‘That’s Just Hawaii’ Doesn’t Cut It Anymore
CB: From bad roads to an out-of-control rail project, we’ve got issues. Who will step up and demand accountability? …
So where are the people who should be calling for accountability? Cat got their tongues?
Republican representation in the state House is down to five members and the GOP has no representation in the Senate. I would think this was a huge clue as to their efficacy as a party. Last I heard, their party leadership were more concerned with Roberts Rules of Order. It only validates what a February Civil Beat article said, that is it has become irrelevant. So who is the voice of opposition? Who is the face of the Hawaii Republican Party?
Are we to depend on Democrats to offer some kind of opposition to their own policies? Go ask Rep. Sharon Har how that works. Removed from her position as vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee for her opposition to the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act, she was told to move to a smaller office. Given this, along with how Rep. Beth Fukumoto was treated, it seems as though many of our public servants haven’t graduated beyond the sand box.
We’ve got serious issues to contend with. A high cost of living, the continuing rise of the cost of housing, homeless people, bad roads, projects that are stymied or over-budget. There are many more, but no one seems to want to step up and be counted. Sure, there will be those who are offended. But there are people in government and business who should be held accountable.
We need to engage in discussion to the point where we the people get some answers and not just lip service. Given the current atmosphere of voter apathy, politicians need to do more than just sandbag criticism and their constituents. We need substance…..
HM: Beth Fukumoto makes an increasingly Desperate Plea to be Allowed into Democratic Party (LOL!)
read … Sandbox
How House Leaders Scuttled Better Pay For Foster Parents
CB: …Even as the cost of housing, food and personal items kept rising, the state’s monthly payment to foster parents of $529 per month per child remained unchanged for 24 years. Finally in 2014, the state increased the payment by an additional $46 to $121 per child, depending on age…..
The settlement — which provided $14 million for the state Department of Human Services for foster care support, $2.3 million in back payments to foster parents like Ah Chong, and $1.1 million in attorney fees during the next two years — seemed set to sail through the 2017 Legislature.
The DHS funds were to be included as part of the state budget, while payments to foster parents and the legal fees were part of a bill settling claims against the state.
But House leaders scuttled the plan during the last days of the session, declining to provide any money in the budget for the settlement. House Speaker Scott Saiki later said attorney fees in the settlement were too high. … (Translation: They think the lawyers can get even more. Keep reading.)
Attorneys for Ah Chong and other plaintiffs say the state’s failure to fund a settlement in both the federal and state lawsuits means the foster care case will likely go to trial.
The initial settlement in August 2016 would have provided $85 million in support for the foster care system over the next 10 years. If the case goes to court, plaintiff lawyers argue the state could be on the hook for much more money. …. (See!)
“That’s just bullshit,” Alston said Tuesday. He said legal fees and costs on his side were actually $2.9 million before the settlement.
“They always had the option to leave this to a court settlement. Frankly, I believe we are going to receive substantially more — both what is owed to the foster parents and the entitled fees — if we prevail, as I think we will. We will be taking double at least.”
read … Foster
Filmmakers distort GMO ag in Hawaii
JC: Hollywood has a long history of romanticizing and misrepresenting Hawaii. Now indie directors are getting into the act with a slew of “documentaries” that gravely distort agriculture in the Islands, most especially the GMO seed crops.
These flicks have become so common in recent years — not coincidentally coinciding with the rise of the anti-GMO movement in Hawaii — that they’re in danger of creating a whole new genre: earnestly erroneous docudramas. They all follow the same cookie-cutter formula: “Paradise” is being “poisoned” by multinational chem companies, and it can be saved only by white knights (read Caucasian activists) and a return to ancient agricultural practices.
Though most of the filmmakers are unknowns, actor Pierce Brosnan’s wife Keely recently got into the act, as did pro surfer Cyrus Sutton.
You might reasonably ask what a celebrity’s wife and a surfer know about agriculture. The answer, upon viewing their films, is very little.
But that’s OK, because these movies aren’t really about farming. They’re about promoting an ideology — a romanticized, Utopian view that the world can be fed from backyard plots….
GLP: Plaintiffs suing Monsanto over alleged carcinogenicity of herbicide glyphosate say EPA colluded with company
read … Filmmakers distort GMO ag in Hawaii
Biofools: A Look Back at HECO`s Palm Oil Fiasco
IM: Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) proposed building a new power generation facility in Campbell Industrial Park in 2005. Initially, HECO asserted that the plant would be powered by Hawai`i ethanol, which would jump-start the local agricultural industry. The State Legislature passed a law asserting that no matter how the ethanol was created, all biofuel is considered 100 percent renewable energy.
HECO soon came to realize that biodiesel made more sense than ethanol. HECO proposed powering the facility with palm oil biodiesel supplied by Imperium Services LLC. HECO filed an application for approval of the Biodiesel Supply Contract with the Public Utilities Commission in 2007. …
The federal government passed a Production Tax Credit for biofuel in 2004. The law gave domestic biofuel producers a $1.00 tax credit for every gallon of biodiesel produced. But a loophole in the law allowed 99.9 percent of the fuel to be imported, and mixed with 0.1 percent of domestic production, to get the full tax subsidy on all of the fuel.
This allowed a convoluted “splash and dash” market to develop. American and European biofuel producers could ship fuel to the U.S., add tiny amounts of American fuel, ship the oil to Europe, and undercut the price of those producers who chose not to participate in global stupidity.
Pennsylvania Rep. John Peterson introduced, and Rep. Abercrombie co-sponsored, H.R. 4318 the Outer Continental Shelf Natural Gas Relief Act of 2005, a bill which designed to spur drilling for off-shore gas located on the Outer Continental Shelf, and to use the gas to convert Midwest corn into a renewable ethanol fuel.
Imperium Renewables planned to get the palm oil from Indonesia, Malaysia, or Borneo (largely owned by Indonesia and Malaysia).
A lead story in the December 5, 2006 Wall Street Journal noted the huge negative health and environmental impacts associated with palm oil production.
Palm oil production contributes to poor health. “On the island of Borneo, a thick haze often encloses this city [Pontianak] of 500,000 people. The cause: forest fires that have blazed across the island. Many of them were set to clear land to produce palm oil...The bluish smoke is at times so dense that it leaves the city dark and gloomy even at midday. The haze has sometimes closed Pontianak's airport…But the miasma of smoke from Borneo and the island of Sumatra -- an annual phenomenon that blankets large parts of Southeast Asia in smog -- underscores a troubling dark side of the world's alternative-energy boom.”
Palm oil production impacts ecosystems. “Among the world's most fabled islands, Borneo -- which is divided between Indonesia and Malaysia -- is considered by environmentalists to be one of the last great tropical wildernesses. It's home to rare and unusual species, including the wild orangutan, the clouded leopard and the Sumatran rhinoceros. ... Now, the palm-oil boom threatens what's left.”
Palm oil production causes climate change. “As fires burn deep into the dry peat soil beneath Indonesia's forests, centuries of carbon trapped in the biomass are released into the atmosphere. A study presented last month at a U.N. Climate Change Conference in Nairobi showed that Indonesia is the world's third-biggest carbon emitter behind the U.S. and China, when emissions from fires and other factors are considered.''…
A new power generation plant is being built at Schofield Barracks in Wahiawa. The Commission approved the project in September 2015. The decision approved the Consumer Advocate proposal, that in exchange for the plant burning biofuel, “the Campbell Industrial Park biodiesel power plant will be converted to fossil fuel.”
read … A Look Back at HECO`s Palm Oil Fiasco
Aquaculture Gains Sustainability Cred
TP: …the reality is that aquaculture is not going away. In fact, it will continue to surge, as it is a cost-effective way to supply protein to an increasingly growing – and hungry – world. The World Bank, for example, estimated that two-thirds of all seafood consumed globally will be provided by aquaculture. As the argument goes, instead of importing that fish from abroad, expand fish farming here in the U.S. – where regulations are far stricter than they are in global aquaculture leaders such as Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
And aquaculture is generally becoming safer, science journalist Virginia Gewin of the Food and Environment Reporting Network outlined last month. The overuse of antibiotics in the industry, which was once the foundation of the health argument against the expansion of aquaculture, has largely declined – vaccines are now the norm across the industry. Fish excrement, another challenge that bedeviled the industry, can be a relatively small problem compared to the nitrates washing into seas such as the Gulf of Mexico – where oil spills are a far more ominous environmental threat. Compared to livestock operations for pork and cattle, Gewin argued, fish farming is relatively benign – if done correctly….
Related: Are Enviros Finally Ready to Accept Fish Farming?
read … Cred
How to Pretend to be a Tech Entrepreneur and Score Hawaii Tax Credits
HM: …’Investors’ (risk their own money. We’re not like that. While giving away taxpayer money, we) look at five things in startups: team, team, team, product and market. This is particularly true for early-stage companies. Later-stage startups that are raising venture capital usually have some demonstrable traction as the foundation of their pitch. Early-stage startups seldom have this – they’re pre-revenue, pre-traction and, sometimes, still at the concept stage….
read … Phoney Baloney
Who’s on furlough? New decision favors public’s right to know
KHON: …KHON2’s Always Investigating has been fighting for for years, and now a ruling has been made in the public’s favor.
You may think hundreds of Hawaii’s prisoners are serving time behind bars, but they’re actually often out and about on a daily basis, whether they’re working or looking for work.
They are supposed to be back behind bars again each night, but all too often the day ends differently — with them unaccounted for or worse out committing new crimes, like in April 2015, when two inmates on furlough pretended to be police officers and tied up four people in a Makiki home.
In 2013, Always Investigating turned to the state Office of Information Practices (OIP), the state’s public records watchdog entity, and filed a case after the Department of Public Safety (PSD) shut down our repeated requests to know which convicts are out on work release and community programs….
PDF: View the full decision here.
read … Furlough
Gangland Serial Killer to Get out Early, thanks to Judge Michael Town
HNN: Back 1970, when he was just 25 years old, Medeiros was listed as a suspect in multiple violent murders. Ross Fitzjohn was found dead in May, and two other men – Herman Marfil and Charles Akana – were killed in November.
A witness in the Akana case – 18-year-old Mitzi Iso Klotzbach – was murdered a month later. Having been shot in the head, her body was found buried in a shallow, sandy grave along the Waianae coast.
Two young women, identified as Klotzbach's best friends, were placed in protective custody as they prepared to testify against Medeiros….
For Medeiros, the gang life continued behind bars while he awaited trial for Klotzbach's murder. The Waianae native took part in a jail break in April of 1971 – one that featured guns that had been smuggled into the Halawa prison.
Medeiros and five other inmates managed to escape, sparking a massive island-wide manhunt. They were later captured.
Two years later, after his guilty plea in the Klotzbach case, Medeiros arranged for another firearm to be smuggled into Halawa. Instead of orchestrating another escape, he emptied a .38-caliber handgun into an inmate who had attacked him with a knife. …
…After the statute change was made, Medeiros tried unsuccessfully for a judicial reprieve in 1976. Judge Masato Doi, a Hawaii Circuit Court judge who heard an appeal by Medeiros in an attempt to get his sentence reduced, upheld the initial ruling, saying the sentence that had been imposed was a fair one.
He continued serving time in Halawa until 2001, when a new attorney – Partington – tried again to get Medeiros out of prison.
This time, Medeiros' lawyers were able to convince Circuit Court judge Michael Town that Medeiros should be given a chance at parole.
"They found a judge who was willing to commute his sentence, to a certain extent, and allow him to walk free amongst us," said Peter Carlisle, the former Honolulu prosecutor. "I know that particular judge, and his philosophy was that a person is entitled to parole. And I disagree."….
Happy Coincidence: Judge Michael Town Gets Ohana Unit Approved
read … Judge Town at Work, (again)
City rousts homeless campers from Waipahu cultural center's grounds
HNN: There are three separate encampments around the property, and they've spurred increased concern in recent months. …
"And of course it's drug use, crystal meth is huge out here."….
Over the past six months, the plantation village staff has filed more than 50 complaints with the city about the situation.
Their photos show evidence of drug use and people using the grounds as an open latrine. Each day, custodians have to clean it all up -- before busloads of schoolchildren arrive.
"We have to rush every morning to prepare the property to make sure it's clean and sanitary," said Espinas.
For weeks, service providers have been working to connect the people behind the village with a place to go. They say about half seem interested in getting housing…..
read … Bums Out