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Sunday, April 24, 2011
April 24, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:27 PM :: 14156 Views

Battery-Back Up system catches Fire at new Kahuku Windfarm—Haz Mat team called in

Firefighters are still looking into the cause of a small fire in the battery room of a new wind farm in Kahuku.

The Honolulu Fire Department said the fire was extinguished by the time firefighters arrived at the scene shortly after the 5:45 p.m. Friday call.

“The smoke had gone down significantly after the building was de-energized and we didn’t feel it was necessary to go in until it was safer this morning,” he said.

Firefighters monitored the situation through this morning, when hazardous materials personnel went in to survey the structure and deem it safe.

(We must immediately pledge $1B of ratepayers’ money to build a cable to Lanai to support this magnificent technology!)


THE FUTURE: Wind Energy's Ghosts

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First meeting promises new direction for BOE  (promises, promises)

With the head of Hawaii's largest bank as its chairman, the new appointed Board of Education is promising greater scrutiny of education spending, including its own, and less involvement in the daily operations of schools.

The board's new approach will be evident at its first meeting Tuesday, when members will vote to form new committees to tackle audits (as long as they are not financial), human resource issues and finance; call for formal approval of new pared-down bylaws; and kick off a review of BOE policies — all 211 of them — to determine whether any can be thrown out to give the superintendent more power….

"(Horner) wanted to do things (immediately). I told him it's not going to happen. Government doesn't work that way," Takumi said.

National experts say it's also probably a good idea for the public to temper its expectations for the board, and realize that a board of education is a major policy driver but not necessarily the biggest determinant on whether schools improve.

"The best way to think about boards is they make success possible or they make it highly unlikely," said Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a research institution. "Dysfunctional school boards mess things up so badly so that hardly any improvements are possible."

Hess said it's useful to think of an education board like a board of directors for a company.

But he did say boards of education wield considerable power, with the authority to hire and fire a superintendent, "keep a firm hand on the tiller and provide some expertise and guidance."

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Unlike Dods, Horner gives to Dems and GOP

(Meet the new boss of business in the Corporatist State.)  To varying degrees, Horner has backed candidates from both parties. In 2008, he gave U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., $1,000 and gave the Barack Obama campaign $4,600.  Horner said he had forgotten about the McCain contribution, speculating that he might have been asked by a friend to contribute.

"I gave to Obama because he is a native son and I am appreciative that he came to Hawaii. I think he cares about Hawaii, and anybody who cares about Hawaii, I care about," Horner said.

Today Horner is strongly supportive of Gov. Neil Abercrombie, whom he calls a friend.  "He is someone I admire immensely," Horner said. "He and I are passionate about education and that is why I will serve him faithfully when it comes to education. I think he will make an outstanding governor and I contributed to his campaign."

Since 1998, Horner has given Abercrombie $4,500. In testimony to his bipartisan nature, Horner gave Lingle $7,000 in her campaigns for governor and did not contribute to Democrat U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono's campaign when she ran for governor in 2002. 

Horner says he supported Lingle on many issues, but when it came to her strong stands on splitting up the state school system, "We had some pretty interesting discussions.  "I admired her commitment, because I think she was a very bright person (this is the key phrase) and I think she made a good governor," Horner said.

Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann also has been supported by Horner with campaign donations from 2003 to 2009 totaling $6,000. Others whom Horner has supported include the past congressional campaigns of Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, state Sen. Clayton Hee and former state Sen. Ron Menor. Horner gave $2,000 to former President George W. Bush and $3,500 to former Rep. Ed Case.

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Some Worry Dead Excise Tax May Come Back

An increase in Hawaii's general excise tax is dead for now, but Rep. George Fontaine worries that it could make a comeback.

Fontaine, a Republican representing Maui, said on the House Minority website that there could be an effort to raise the general excise tax between now and the end of this year's legislative session May 5.

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Deadline looms for lawmakers struggling to balance budget

"We have been working through the weekend, looking at the budget looking at further budget cuts," says Sen. David Ige, (D) Ways & Means Committee Chairman.

Other options include revenue generating bills that would increase fees on all rental cars to $7.50 a day - up $3. Which could add $60 million to the general fund.

"We are in conversations with Department of Transportation and airports I do think that has good possibilities," says Sen. Ige.

Just one of many new taxes Rep. Gene Ward says Hawaii residents can't afford.

"The airlines, the cost of going to the neighbor islands may go up, rental cars are going up, those are things the people of Hawaii when they wake up after this next week are going to say 'Oh my gosh what did they do?'" says Rep. Gene Ward, (R) Minority Leader.

His Republican companions plan to stand against other revenue raising bills that would increase alcohol and tobacco taxes - which could generate upwards of $10 million - and strip some GE tax exemptions and tax those earning pensions.

"Here's the bottom line, we have to protect our jobs, and our businesses. Right now they are shedding employees, we are over burdening them with more fines and more taxation," says Rep. Ward.

Rep. Ward proposes instead putting a freeze on all outstanding contracts and refunds due for income taxes.

"Now until the end of June we have $232 million and that money is no where around," says Rep. Ward.

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State's spurious financial crisis has prompted legislators to look at funds previously off limits

The proliferation of special funds has its vocal detractors, especially among the more fiscally conservative. Lowell Kalapa, executive director of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, is a frequent critic of the system, which he said sometimes becomes an unaccountable end-run on spending control. Instead of sticking with any spending limits, he said, governments can get around them by spinning off a special account with its own funding mechanism.

Higa is the person in the best position to ride herd on the funds, but a 1992 study was the last overall review of all the funds. The 166 special and revolving funds in existence then were audited, and they had an aggregated cash balance topping $1.5 billion.

In 2001, 132 newly created special and revolving funds were checked, revealing $1.19 billion more. That audit recommended that 70 funds be ended; lawmakers ultimately repealed 37. In 2001, Higa's office advised that 69 of the more recently created funds be repealed. The auditor hasn't checked up on it — since then, the Legislature has ordered regular reviews only of trust and revolving funds and accounts — but she said she believes most of those funds have survived.

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Calif-Hilo flights projected to bring in $50M, begin June 9

When the airline first announced its plans to come to Hilo, Hawaii Tourism Authority president Mike McCartney said the new routes could bring up to 40,000 more visitors spending a total of $50.6 million on the Big Island each year.  (Just ignore this.  We are all doomed.  We must raise taxes!)

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New tuition hikes loom: State’s deficit delays decision on a price increase for UH  (Tax Hike Propaganda pt1)

(This article exists for one purpose only: To influence debate within the Legislative Caucuses which are now considering tax hikes and spending cuts.)

University of Hawaii officials are considering raising tuition in 2012, but the price tag to attend the 10-campus UH system won’t be determined for nearly another year, leaving students little time to budget for their biggest college expense….

UH administrators originally wanted to have a new tuition schedule approved and in place by last January, to give students and their families more than a year to figure out how they would pay for the increased costs to attend UH campuses.

Instead, as legislators struggle to close a two-year, $1.3 billion budget deficit, UH officials won’t know how much money they’ll receive from the state until the end of the legislative session. They’ll then spend the next few months crunching census data and other numbers before making a tuition proposal to the UH Board of Regents in early fall, UH President M.R.C. Greenwood said.

If the regents agree in concept to raise tuition, the new costs would not be finalized until January, Greenwood said.

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Funding for dams and reservoirs should be restored

(This article exists for one purpose only: To influence debate within the Legislative Caucuses which are now considering tax hikes and spending cuts.)

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SA: Oahu's rail panel needs technical expert aboard

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is assembling its inaugural board of directors, with six of its nine voting members being nominated this week. Even once the nominees are confirmed by the City Council, a last step in forming the new board remains: The appointed directors must name the final voting board member.

This will be a critical decision. Although the nominees bring varied professional experiences that will be useful in oversight of the $5.3 billion rail project, the board ideally should have someone with a background in urban planning or otherwise conversant in the issues presented by mass transit and the development that follows.

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Utility lines to be moved for Honolulu rail

HONOLULU (AP) - Utility lines are to be moved to make way for the first section of the Honolulu rail transit project.

The state Department of Transportation says that because of the work, a highway lane is to be closed for the next seven weeks.

Starting Monday one lane along Farrington Highway near Waipahu High School will be closed in both directions.

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Federal contracts come to women and minorities

I check federal contracts every day. Roughly 25 percent of the contracts go to 8a (minority- or women-owned) firms; the rest are MBE (Minority Business Enterprises), WBE (Women Business Enterprises), disadvantaged small businesses or businesses in a hub zone. There are all kinds of categories, but many of them are open, anyone can apply, there's no set-aside (quota for certified businesses). People tend to think you have to be an 8a firm to get federal contracts or that you have got to be a huge firm … but Disney said “our smallest vendor does $68,000 a year in annual sales.” That's tiny, but that company is a Disney vendor.

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Your Tax Dollars At Work: Groups Sue over use of “Wailuku Main Street” Name

In letters to the Wailuku Main Street group earlier this year, the National Trust Main Street Center said only groups that pass its training and meet criteria to become an official "coordinating program" are entitled to use the trademarked "Main Street" name.

"Your organization's continued unauthorized use of the term 'Main Street' has caused confusion among the communities in Hawaii, and suggests that the National Trust for Historic Preservation endorses or otherwise sponsors the activities of (WMSA)," wrote Anita C. Canovas, associate general counsel for the national trust in March.

She asked Wailuku Main Street to "cease and desist" use of the Main Street name.

Maui County Council members asked about the lawsuit last week, as they reviewed Wailuku Main Street's request for a $243,000 county grant.

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Big Isle redistricting to begin

With Puna, North Kona and South Kohala the fastest-growing areas on the island, big changes are expected in County Council districts this year.

Ford, who unsuccessfully sued the 2001 Charter Commission, maintains Puna should have gotten two representatives last time, but the populations numbers were ignored in favor of ensuring Hilo kept its three council seats.
Hilo and Hamakua are the slowest-growing areas in the county, and Hilo especially is expected to lose clout when the new lines are drawn.

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Obamanomics: Teen Unemployment hits 27%

It is up from 17% when the Manoa-Liberal-in-Chief took office.  Star-Advertiser writers and editors should be saluted for writing this entire article without mentioning Obama even once.  That takes skill!

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Fish farms struggle as DC-based Luddites try to stop them

Presently, two ocean-based fish farms operate in Hawaii. One was started by Kona Blue raising amberjack trademarked as Kona Kam­pa­chi off the Big Island, though production has been stalled for more than a year because of high costs and inefficient cage configurations (interference from the same money-grubbing ‘activists’ who shook down Hokulia),The other is Huki­lau Foods, which continues to produce moi off Oahu but is in bankruptcy after trouble expanding a shore-based hatchery (doing a business deal with Steve Case.)

A third company, Hawaii Oceanic Technology, is pursuing a plan to raise bigeye and yellowfin ahi off the Big Island.

Some opponents of open-ocean aquaculture have questioned the applicability of the permit Kona Blue is seeking. Technically, Kona Blue applied for a fishing permit that categorizes the cages as a type of fishing gear.

Food & Water Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based organization and critic of open-ocean aquaculture, fears the test will open the door to commercial fish farms in federal waters through the Fisheries Service, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"NOAA is putting ocean fish farming cages in the same category as rods and reels and fishing nets, so the agency can claim it has authority to issue a permit for this new ‘gear type,'" Weno­nah Hau­ter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement. "It's outrageous that NOAA is equating this dangerous, large-scale polluting method of farming fish with fishing."

NOTE: The oceans are submerged ‘ceded lands’ so OHA gets a cut of the action.

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As Gays lose interest, Oahu Co Democrats demand State promote Gay Sex Tourism

A dedicated website for GLBT travel to Hawaii was introduced by the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Center several years ago and quietly disappeared.

Gay venues in Hawaii are not expanding, but shrinking. No location in Hawaii is currently identified within the top 15 as a “most-visited US destination location in GLBT travel research studies." (But, but, but…Civil Unions were spozed to make us all rich….)

The GLBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii has now picked up on this important opportunity for the Hawaii economy. A resolution was submitted to the Oahu County Convention of the Democratic party and will be decided on during their convention on May 6-7.

The resolution argues that in April 2007, government authorities in over 75 destinations targeted the GLBT traveler with their marketing efforts, but search in 2008 of, the official Hawaii Tourism web portal, produced one reference to a bed and breakfast. The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau website,, produced no reference at all, and (the official tourism site for the island of Oahu and home of Waikiki) produced a reference to a restaurant and a broken link to a bed and breakfast.

It comes as no surprise that according to Pacific Business News, the number of GLBT tourists is declining. (But, but, but…Civil Unions were spozed to make us all rich….)

The Democratic Party of Hawaii is now demanding in their resolution to request the City and County of Honolulu, and the State of Hawaii, develop and implement GLBT-focused marketing to include online electronic information with links to resources valuable to the GLBT communities, and print, radio, and TV marketing in media focusing on the GLBT individuals. Such focused marketing should receive a significant, specifically identified segment of the marketing budgets of the tourism and visitors authorities of the City and County of Honolulu and the State of Hawaii.

BONUS: Oahu County Democrats to Denounce Uganda for discouraging Gay Sex Tourism there

RELATED:  The plan to Overhaul Straight Hawaii

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POLITICO: More than half of Democrats are 9-11 Trooothers

There aren't a lot of great public numbers on the partisan breakdown of adherents to that conspiracy theory, but the University of Ohio yesterday shared with us the crosstabs of a 2006 poll they did with Scripps Howard that's useful in that regard.

"How likely is it that people in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East?" the poll asked.

A full 22.6% of Democrats said it was "very likely." Another 28.2% called it "somewhat likely."

That is: More than half of Democrats, according to a neutral survey, said they believed Bush was complicit in the 9/11 terror attacks.

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Reality: Donald Trump Is President Obama’s New Best Friend

Each time a journalist or commentator confronts a Republican candidate or politician on this issue, they are helping to sort the wheat from the chaff. Only those candidates who are willing to stand up to the lies will advance to the next level. No Republican can win with just the base vote. They need to get the votes of the people who don’t believe the lies.

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